Jubal (1956)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Western  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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An intriguing and interesting psychological Western, Jubal is not totally successful, but it has enough going for it to make it well worth watching. Very freely drawn from Othello, Jubal is more concerned with relationships, interaction and motivation than it is with the full-barreled action often associated with Westerns. Being "concerned with" these things does not mean that Jubal is always successful in exploring them. Like with many other films, its psychological examinations are often a bit shallow and obvious, as is especially demonstrated in the title character's relating of his tortured relationship with his mother. But for the most part, Jubal's focus on the characters and what makes them tick pays off. And while there is perhaps less action than in other films of the genre, Jubal is by no means lacking in excitement. Certainly, director Delmer Daves does an excellent job of keeping tension up and of mixing typical Western elements with the personal melodrama that runs through Jubal. He's aided by his exceptional cast, led by Glenn Ford's letter-perfect title character. Ford's quiet brooding spills over into seething and finally erupts cathartically when necessary. Ernest Borgnine does very well with Shep, making some unnatural transitions work very well, abd Rod Steiger's menacing, vile Pinky is a delightfully evil portrait. Valerie French's none-too-virtuous wife is alluring and appropriately self-serving, helping to make up for Felicia Farr's somewhat-too-bland Naomi.