A botch job by Sam Goldwyn, who exercised his power as producer by changing directors—from Howard Hawks to William Wyler—halfway through the shooting. Some sources hold that Wyler shot only the last ten minutes, working from Hawks’s script; others claim that Wyler reshot much of Hawks’s work. But the first part of the film, the best, is unmistakably Hawks, as Edward Arnold and Walter Brennan (in an early part, his first Academy Award performance) fight for the hand of Frances Farmer, against the background of the north-woods logging country. The Edna Ferber story (like her Giant) then shifts generations, and the action loses much of its scale. Farmer remains a wonder, in one of her few fully realized parts as an early and lusty version of the Hawksian woman (1936).
An action film for people who don’t like action films, directed in overstated CinemaScope by John Sturges in 1955. Spencer Tracy is a mysterious one-armed man in black who faces down the residents of a small isolated town, whom he suspects of having killed the father of his Japanese war buddy. Spence knows karate, Robert Ryan and the rest of the rednecks don’t; but everybody can moralize like hell.