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Classic Movie Series to show 'The Naked Spur' Oct. 12 in Bigfork

Felix Mooneeram on Unsplash

The Edge Center for the Arts brings the series monthly with host and retired film professor, Jack Nachbar. This month's feature is one of the greatest Westerns ever made — Anthony Mann’s “The Naked Spur.”

BIGFORK — I’m a huge fan of movies, including classic movies. I was excited to see one of the best Westerns, in my opinion, is showing in our region.

The Classic Movie Series continues at the Edge Center for the Arts in Bigfork at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, with host Jack Nachbar. This month features one of the greatest Westerns ever made — Anthony Mann’s “The Naked Spur.” The film came out in 1953 and stars Jimmy Stewart, Janet Leigh and Robert Ryan.

The film is about a bounty hunter (Stewart) who tries to bring a murderer (Ryan) to justice but is forced to accept help from two strangers he can barely trust.

Poster for the film the Naked Spur
The Naked Spur screening on at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12

Stewart delivers possibly his best Western performance as the often-unlikeable Howard Kemp, a scorned man who is almost incapable of trusting another human being. It’s a brave performance, especially from an actor like Stewart, who is most famous for portraying the “aw shucks” everyman.

In my mind, it’s Robert Ryan who delivers the best performance in the film. He plays the charming and conniving Ben Vandergroat, who is wanted dead or alive for $5,000 and is constantly planting seeds of doubt in everyone in the cast — including the old prospector and discharged cavalry man who Kemp has been forced to trust. He’s like a human rat willing to do or say anything just to survive another day, and Ryan portrays it perfectly.

What this film captures so well is the feeling of mistrust in every character involved. I found myself asking myself not if someone will eventually betray the group, but who will be the first to do it. When there’s money involved, any sense of loyalty is thrown out the window.

Even though the story is set in the wilderness, the film plays as an intimate character piece just waiting for everyone to show their hand. There’s a reason why film fans return to this Western. There’s no clear hero with maybe the exception of Leigh’s character, Lina Patch, whose motives and actions are mostly pure.

The screening of “The Naked Spur” in Bigfork will be accompanied by a presentation from Jack Nachbar and a cartoon from 1953. The showing is free and open to the public.

Listen above to Jack Nachbar's recent appearance on the KAXE Morning Show.

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