Pursued (1947)

Pursued (1947), directed by Raoul Walsh.

I had never seen this before: a tragic romance melodrama in a western setting. Robert Mitchum does not yet have his sinister persona, but even at this stage there is a shadow on his soul.

Since he was a boy Jeb has had fragments of frightful memory and a recurring nightmare. He is hunted all his life, caught up in a blood feud he won't understand until the final moments. It poisons Teresa Wright's love for him.

Some rough parallels to Romeo and Juliet, if they had grown up in the same house: "My only love sprung from my only hate." He kills both Wright's kinsman and her fiancé, but they still have their wedding and wedding night, and will reunite at the tomb.

It's pretty strange. Our characters don't behave as we expect. Wright and Judith Anderson turn from love to murderous hate for our hero. He watches and waits, letting the trap be built around him.

Tempestuous Max Steiner score and striking James Wong Howe photography. Filmed in New Mexico (but also with some studio exteriors).

Available on Blu-ray from Olive films, restoration by UCLA. The image quality is generally pretty good without being top-notch. A bit of film damage in spots. Martin Scorsese provides a three-minute appreciation.

Available for rent from ClassicFlix.