Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Jubal (1956)

Dir. Delmer Daves
Starring: Glen Ford, Ernest Borgnine, Rod Steiger, Valerie French, Charles Bronson, Jack Elam, Noah Beery Jr.

Cowhand Jubal Troop (Ford) gains employment on a Shep Horgan’s (Borgnine) ranch, only to have to deal with conflicts after he rebuffs the romantic advances of the boss’s wife (French).

This is definitely more in the vein of the Budd Boeticher/Randolph Scott Ranown films, as it’s more adult in its nature and less exciting adventure. Not that it’s boring. The film is more of a relationship drama, focusing on Jubal wanting to do the right thing towards Shep, a man who was nice enough to let him in his home and give him employment

Jealousy is a huge part of this movie. Mae’s interest in Jubal leads a jealous Shep to make rash decisions, one that ends in violence. Pinky is jealous of how quickly Jubal has gained a position of authority on the ranch, a position that Pinky felt was his. This leads to Pinky (Steiger) putting the idea in Shep’s head about something going on between Jubal and Mae. Jubal is a bit of an innocent by stander, since he has eyes for Naomi, but Jake also like Naomi and his jealousy leads to him alerting an angry mob as to where Jubal is following the incident with Shep.

It’s easy to see Mae Horgan as the villain of the piece. Her attempts to seduce Jubal behind her husband’s back is the action that sets off the plot. It’s also implied that prior to Jubal arriving at the ranch, there was something going on between Pinky and Mae, and that she’s moved on now that there’s fresh meat on the ranch. As the film progresses you learn about her, how she married Shep for his money and to get out of her hometown, and things didn’t turn out as she expected, since she’s stuck alone on a ranch out in the middle of nowhere. She’s also not happy with Shep, a man that doesn't understand that women don't like to be slapped on the butt. But in the back half of the film all of the problems are caused by Pinky and Mae attempting to twist things for their own benefit. Both are equally bad in different ways. Really Pinky is just as bad as Mae, maybe worse. Steiger is great in the part of a bitter jealous man. It's easy to understand why Pinky is doing most of what he is doing, even if you think he's totally wrong about things.

An important part of the film is Ernest Borgnine as Shep Horgan. He’s a kind and good man, who has no problem bringing a stranger in need into his home and giving him aid, as he did when he finds Jubal at the beginning of the film. His actions cause him to earn the respect of Jubal, which is why he refrains from doing anything inappropriate with Mae. In the beginning Jubal is more of a wanderer, but being around Shep, and hearing things like "But someday he'll learn there's only three things worth fightin' for: a woman, a full belly, and a roof over your head." starts to change him. Through the course of the film he affects Jubal, and in the end when he rides off with Naomi and Reb it gave me the impression that he Is a changed man, and no longer the damaged loner with trust issues that he was in the beginning.

It’s also worth noting the other supporting actors in the film, who all do great work. Charles Bronson is extremely young looking as Reb, who buddies up to Ford’s Jubal.  And there’s too little of Jack Elam’s character.

Overall this is a really good movie. It’s more of a slower, “grown-up” movie, so if you go into it expecting an action filled adventure you’ll probably be disappointed. But it deserved to be held up as a classic in the same way that Delmer Daves 3:10 to Yuma is. I think that 3:10 to Yuma is probably the more accessible film to people unfamiliar to Daves, but part of me thinks that Jubal might be the better film. Either way you really can't go wrong.

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