Great Day in the Morning (1956)

Genres - Action, Adventure, Western  |   Release Date - May 16, 1956 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Great Day in the Morning has adherents who consider it a minor masterpiece, and there are some aspects of Morning that do support this point of view. Certainly, the action sequences that director Jacques Tourneur has staged and cinematographer William Snyder has shot are thrilling, with special praise due to the opening and to the climactic wagon chase. These two also display remarkable taste and talent in their clever use of color (or lack thereof) to make dramatic points, underscore an emotion or give hints to the viewer about a character and/or a character's relationship with another character. Lesser Samuels' screenplay is literate, much more so than is usually the case with a Western script. And Robert Stack, Ruth Roman, and Raymond Burr all turn in exceptional performances, with Roman especially deserving extended praise for taking what could have been a stock character and giving her numerous shades of humanity. Yet for many, these assets are not enough to make Morning into anything more than an unusual but ultimately unsuccessful take on the Western. They believe that Samuels' script raises many intriguing issues but doesn't explore them as deeply as it thinks it does, which in turn impedes the action sequences from having the impact they might. Some even find much of the script pretentious and Tourneur's direction more "arty" than actual art. And while Virginia Mayo is an undeniable eyeful, she's equally undeniably out of sync with her co-stars in terms of her style of performance. Whatever one's feelings, Great Day in the Morning is a Western that is really not quite like any other, and deserves to be seen by more people.