1950 | Western | 92 minutes | In English
In Dodge City, Lin McAdam enters a shooting contest for a coveted “One of One Thousand” Winchester ’73 rifle. His opponent is the despicable Dutch Henry Brown, Lin’s half-brother. Lin wins. However Brown finds a way to steal the rifle. Lin is determined to pursue Brown. Brown in turns sells the rifle to Indian trader Lamont for 300 dollars in gold. When Lamont is reluctant to sell the rifle to Young Bull, he’s scalped. Now the Indians own the rifle. Meanwhile, a saloon girl, Lola Manners, and her fiancé, Steve Miller, decide to hitch their wagon and head to their new home. When the wagon breaks down, Miller panics and deserts Lola. Lin runs across a group of soldiers pinned down by Indians. The more experienced Lin helps them fight the Indians and notices that Lola is with the soldiers. He’s attracted to her as he teaches her how to use a gun. After the rifle changes hands a few more times, Brown ruthlessly manages to gain possession of it. But it may be too late. Lin finally finds Brown and they shoot it out on the side of a mountain. Once and for all this will determine who will be the final owner of the Winchester ’73.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
Writers Guild of America: Nominated, Best Written American Western
The Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
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The first of Anthony Mann’s series of Western masterpieces with James Stewart, this is the marvelously-scripted story of a man and a gun. With such a strong cast, the film almost turns into an ensemble film instead of a star vehicle for Stewart. Present are all the great Mann-Stewart ingredients: hostile landscape, complex history, family revenge, bursts of violence, and obsessive brooding.
WINCHESTER ’73 is not the story of the famous ‘peace-maker’ of the Western frontier that the title implies. It is far from the mature outdoor drama that might be brilliantly filmed around a gun. It’s just a frisky, fast-moving, funny Western in which a rifle is the apple of a cowboy’s eye.
WINCHESTER ’73 changed the way cinema audiences saw the Western, because it featured a more complex idea of the noble hero of the west—a man plagued by personal problems and violent impulses. That became increasingly prevalent in American film from WINCHESTER ’73 onward.
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