What makes a story great? Watch ‘Winchester ’73’

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It is no secret I am an uber movie fan. But aside from watching movies for pure entertainment, as a writer I also pay attention to what makes a movie great, particularly the story. Recently, I again watched one of my favs, “Winchester ’73″on TV and again remarked to my husband, “This is one great movie.”
Well, the cast is spectacular–James Stewart, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, as is the direction by Anthony Mann, and striking Arizon locations.
But it is the story written by Borden Chase and Robert L. Richards that makes it more than standard movie fare.
The story revolves around the gun in question, a “One of One Thousand” Winchester ’73 given as a prize in a shooting contest in Dodge City (yes, complete with Will Geer’s cool turn as Wyatt Earp) and how it changes hands, each time introducing new characters and situations.
Throughout is woven the themes of and reflections on revenge, bravery, betrayal. It has also great action, humor, a little romance, chase scenes, and one spectular shoot out. The dialogue is sharp as a Bowie Knife. The characters are wonderful–from Stewart’s Lin McAdams, a man with only revenge on his mind, to the pscyho Waco Johnnie Dean, wonderfully played by Dan Duryea. Watch for bit roles by a young Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson.
I have never written a Western, but always want to try one after watching “Winchester ’73.” If mine is half as good, then I will be more than happy.

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One response »

  1. One of my favorite movies of all time! So much to love about it, but particularly how even characters who are on screen briefly are so memorable.

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