Lonely Are the Brave (1962)

Lonely Are the Brave (1962), directed by David Miller.

The cowboy wakes up to see jet trails crossing the sky and we know we are long past the End of the West. After cutting some fence wire that is in his way he moves toward town. His young filly "Whiskey" is still in training and has a hard time crossing the busy highway. And yet: on the other side of the road is a pile of old junked cars, like a graveyard of industrial civilization.

If it is horses vs the internal combustion engine, who will win in the long run? We revisit the highway crossing in the tragic final scene and see who wins and who loses. This time.

I saw this many years ago and remembered it as "heavy", probably because of the sadistic beating Kirk Douglas receives when he gets himself thrown in jail to break out his best friend. Now I see that is off-scene and, although cruel, does not bring down the tone as much as I thought. He spits out a molar and says "I hate to lose one of the big ones". He worries the empty space in his jaw for the rest of the film.

Our cowboy does break out, fetches Whiskey, and with the police closing in makes a tense, exciting trek up into the hills. If he can just make it to the rim it is forest all the way to Mexico.

This is beautifully composed and photographed throughout, with often stunning panoramas of the New Mexico flats as seen from high up in the hills:


The cast:


Available on Blu-ray from Kino. Howard S. Berger and Steve Mitchell provide an excited, appreciative commentary track. They say: