The Furies (1950)

The Furies (1950), directed by Anthony Mann.

First review

Willful daughter of a rich rancher gets very angry when she doesn't get what she wants. As I recall someone saying after her death, there is nothing like the glint in Barbara Stanwyck's eye when she decides she has to kill someone.

Finely photographed gothic western. The music doesn't quite fit; it is more like a generic cowboy soundtrack. I wonder if the director had any control over that.

Criterion DVD.

Second review

Walter Huston's "Big Daddy" extravagant rich rancher is a bit much for me, so feudal that he prints his own money and can kill and burn out squatters on his land. Daughter Barbara Stanwyck matches him in intensity, although she channels this into steely determination.

The two outsized personalities move from love-hate, through hate, then back to love-hate. He ruins her engagement by buying off her gambler boyfriend and then hangs her best friend. She throws scissors into his fiancée's face and takes the ranch from him. Happy family.

Boyfriend Wendell Corey is by comparison so quiet and introverted that he really doesn't fit in. He is of the "revenge is a dish best served cold" school, so maybe that balances against the others.

Stanwyck and Corey:


She: You'd like to hit me right now, wouldn't you?

He: I would.

She: Go ahead.

(He slaps her)

She: Now you'd like to kiss me, wouldn't you?

He: Yes, I would.

She: What's in it for me?

Many familiar faces in the cast:

Photographed by Victor Milner, costumes by Edith Head, score by Franz Waxman.

Huston's last film.

The thumbnails are from the Criterion Blu-ray, which carries forward their DVD commentary track by Jim Kitses.

He admits the film is overheated by design and easily lends itself to Freudian interpretations, meaning lots of suppressed sex and symbols of incest. His comments verge on the overblown in their own right. The tenth time I hear "phallic signifier" I start humming Melanie Safka's lyric set to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic":

Freud's mystic world of meaning needn't have us mystified
It's really very simple what the psyche tries to hide:
A thing is a phallic symbol if it's longer than it's wide
As the id goes marching on.