The Lonely Man (1957) Jack Palance, Anthony Perkins, Neville Brand, Elaine Aiken Movie Review

The Lonely Man (1957)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Jack Palance and Elaine Aiken in The Lonely Man (1957)

A Dying Breed

Gunfighter Jacob Wade (Jack Palance) is ready to call time on his career but before he does he returns to where he once lived to make amends with his estranged son Riley (Anthony Perkins) who resents his father, blaming him for driving his mother to kill herself. But with nowhere else to go Riley agrees to go with Jacob who quickly discovers that his notoriety precedes him with no one wanting him around. It is why they end up at the ranch of Ada Marshall (Elaine Aiken), Jacob's former girlfriend who Riley takes a shine to. But with Jacob's eye sight failing him things are not good especially as his enemies haven't retired and are looking for him.

Like "The Gunfighter" and a few others, "The Lonely Man" is one of those westerns whose focus is on a notorious gunfighter who wants to retire to a quiet life but soon discovers that his past will not let him live in peace. And whilst that of course means we see some enemies crawl out of the woodwork who plan on killing Jacob Wade we also see how his notoriety makes him unwelcome in many a town. That little addition makes "The Lonely Man" more than just another copycat western as does the focus on the ailing King Fisher, played by Neville Brand, who is desperate to get revenge on Jacob despite being an ill man.

Anthony Perkins in The Lonely Man (1957)

But what we also get on top of these two stories is a further one about a father trying to make amends for abandoning his wife and child by making sure his son is set up to survive once he is gone. Of course that leads to bonding but it also leads to Riley taking a shine to Ada, Jacob's former girlfriend, which adds another layer of conflict and drama to what is a surprisingly engaging western.

A big part of what makes "The Lonely Man" engaging is the beautiful cinematography which has this wonderful depth, using the snow topped mountains of the surrounding hills as scenery. But you also have the acting and between a youthfully handsome Anthony Perkins and the attractive Elaine Aiken this is a movie with a lot of brooding tension which gives it an enticing moodiness.

What this all boils down to is that "The Lonely Man" is an entertaining western with plenty going on from some western action to character depth. But for me whilst the sort of western I would happily watch more than once it lacks something to make it great.