Reviewed byalydar21Vote: 9/10/10
Lancaster's only directing role. A decent western with a twist or two,especially at the ending showdown, which features 10 dramatic seconds offeat that only Lancaster could make suspenseful.
How does a man defeat an armed enemy while standing opposite a 40 yardwidestream, and with no gun? The daring Lancaster meets this challenge with asurprising, brash dash. Check it out.
Reviewed bybkoganbingVote: 7/10/10
In the first of two films Burt Lancaster directs as well as stars, heplays the title role of Eli Wakefield who is The Kentuckian. The partof the frontiersman in the James Monroe presidency fits Lancaster'srobust personality perfectly. He's very much a combination of both theWilliam Holden and Robert Mitchum characters in Rachel and theStranger, taking the best aspects of both for his portrayal. LikeMitchum he's got 'woodsy' ways and like Holden he aims to see his songrows out of those ways.
Just where and how little David McDonald does grow up does concernLancaster and he does during the course of The Kentuckian reexaminejust what it is he wants for himself and his son. He's also got a realproblem in the shape of a pair of inbred mountain people called Fromeswhose family has feuded with the Wakefields for a couple ofgenerations.
Burt's moving west with his boy to get away from the mountain feud sohis kid has a chance to grow up and their destination is Texas whichthe Mexicans had opened up for Yankee settlers eventually to theirregret. But he helps a lady in distress in the person of bond servantDianne Foster and spends his 'Texas' money buying out her contract fromWill Wright.
So a planned visit with brother John McIntire and sister-in-law UnaMerkel is going to be longer than he thought especially with McIntirewanting to remake Lancaster into a merchant like himself. McIntire alsohas a wife picked out for him in the person of school teacher DianaLynn.
The film was shot in Owensboro, Kentucky and presumably in 1955 therewas still enough 'woodsy' territory that it still looked like 1820frontier America. Director Lancaster got good performances out of hiscast which included Walter Matthau making his motion picture debut.Matthau plays a tavern owner and town bully, a mean man with abull-whip who goes after an unarmed Lancaster with one. That scene isreally the climax of the film.
However the two to watch for here are the Fromes brothers, Paul Wexlerand Douglas Spencer. They are a pair of evil looking dudes, no doubtancestors of those guys from Deliverance.
In a recent biography of Burt Lancaster, because of some disparagingcomments Lancaster made about directors, the Director's Guild firstrefused to let him direct his own film. Eventually the productioncompany, Hecht-Hill-Lancaster got a waiver from the Guild. I think theywanted to Burt to sweat a little. For him though directing turned outnot to be something he wanted to do, he got through the film with somedifficulty and it was no accident that while he was on the productionend, Lancaster only directed one other film in his career, MidnightMan.
The Kentuckian is a good film, perfectly suited to Burt Lancaster'sathleticism and charisma, a must for his fans.
Reviewed byNeil DoyleVote: 6/10/10
BURT LANCASTER stars as THE KENTUCKIAN who has a yearning to go wherethe grass is greener and wants to leave Kentucky for a new life inTexas with his young son in tow. DIANA LYNN is a pretty schoolteacherat the schoolhouse cabin and DIANNE FOSTER is the other female lead, anindentured servant, with a yen for Lancaster.
Good supporting roles for WALTER MATTHAU (making his screen debut) andJOHN CARRADINE. JOHN LITEL makes a welcome appearance as a riverboatman, but the story lacks a strong enough plot to maintain interest inthe rather pedestrian proceedings. Filmed in widescreen color andCinemaScope, it looks as though a lavish budget has been expended on atiresome script.
Fortunately, the film picks up interest toward the last fifteen minuteswhen Lancaster and his son have to defend themselves against badmanMatthau and his cohorts. There's also a confrontational bullwhip scenewith Matthau and Lancaster that is well staged and effective.
But the story is rather trite and there's nothing special aboutLancaster's performance or his direction. I would have preferred a moreappealing youngster for Young Eli than DONALD MacDONALD who walksthrough his role without ever inhabiting it.
A frontiersman in 1820s Kentucky finds the area too civilized for his tastes, so he makes plans for he and his son to leave for the wild Texas country. However, he buys an indentured servant along the way, and her presence throws a monkey wrench into his plans.