Saddle the Wind (1958) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Thu, September 19, 2013 02:30 PM est. Closed Captioned.
Saddle the Wind is the result of a creative conflict between golden era Hollywood and the cool method acting world of New York in the late 1950’s. Both the writer, Rod Serling (of Twilight Zone fame) and John Cassavetes represented the new, “cool” world of New York. Robert Taylor, holder of the record for the longest employment by one studio) represented Hollywood with a capital “H.” The director, Robert Parrish, was more on the New York wavelength.
From what I’ve read, Cassavetes tried to antagonize Taylor with his difficult behavior and, when he failed, got even more outrageous. The New York crew regarded Taylor as incredibly “square.”
The result of all this is a fascinating conflict of styles. Taylor prided himself on not “mugging” and here his reserved style worked well as Cassavetes’ older brother, a retired gunman. The pain of a man watching someone he brought up as son, not a younger brother, turn into an unstable, erratic killer is evident on Taylor’s craggy face. The younger brother is in constant motion–he seems to mistake activity for accomplishment.
Through a number of plot twists including disputed land ownership, romance (with Julie London) and brother-to-brother conflict, the film moves quickly and stylishly towards its inevitable end. The photography is excellent, making the best of the glorious scenery. Julie London is underused but does what she can.
In the end, New York and Hollywood work well together to make a highly watchable film. Review by me for the IMDB.