Greatest Film Scenes
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The Far Country (1954)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Far Country (1954)

In this dark revenge western - the fourth pairing of director Anthony Mann with actor James Stewart in films between 1950 and 1955, and with a script written by Borden Chase; it was filmed in Technicolor in the Great Canadian Northwest:

  • the setting was In 1896, during a cattle drive into the 'far country,' from Wyoming to Seattle, and then to the port city of Scagway (in the Alaskan Panhandle), and further northward into Canada to Dawson City (in the Canadian territory of the Yukon)
  • during the Klondike Gold Rush, self-reliant, misanthropic anti-hero cattle herder and loner Jeff Webster (James Stewart) (advertised as a "stranger with a gun") and his trusted, grizzly sidekick pal Ben Tatum (Walter Brennan) were herding their cattle from Wyoming, with Ben's ultimate objective to fund their dream ranch in Utah
  • the film opened in the coastal city of Seattle, where Webster directed his cattle onto a steamship bound to the North, after being accused by two cowhands of unlawfully murdering two other cattle thieves
  • upon their arrival in Scagway, the two interrupted a hanging on a platform erected in the town's streets, being conducted by the film's despotic antagonist: wealthy yet affable top-hatted judge/Sheriff Gannon (John McIntire); the self-appointed Gannon arrested Webster on false charges
  • a bogus and unfair trial was held in the saloon (Scagway Castle) of seductress Ronda Castle (Ruth Roman), one of Gannon's corrupt business associates. (The seductress had earlier helped shelter Jeff from authorities onboard the steamship in her stateroom's bed, and she had taken a liking to him.) The annoyed and tyrannical judge, who was quoted as saying: "I'm gonna like you. I'm gonna hang you, but I'm gonna like you," acquitted Jeff of the murder of two cattle thieves, but then confiscated Webster's entire herd for the crime of disturbing the peace in town

Scagway's Self-Appointed Judge/Sheriff Gannon (John McIntire)

Saloon Owner-Entrepreneur Ronda Castle (Ruth Roman)

Tomboyish French-Canadian Immigrant Renee Vallon (Corinne Calvet)
Three Important Characters
  • however, within a short time, Webster and Tatum were hired by Ronda to lead her caravan to the lawless, isolated, gold-rush settlement town of Dawson City. During their first night, their ploy to steal back their herd of animals succeeded, and they were able to find refuge outside of Gannon's jurisdiction across the border in Canada. After reacquiring his herd, Jeff was threatened by the perturbed scoundrel Gannon that he would be hanged if he ever returned south thru Skagway
  • during their further trek northward, Jeff insised on taking a diversionary valley trail with his cattle, while he watched Ronda and the others take a faster, more treacherous mountainous 2-Mille Pass trail prone to avalanche - without warning her. After begrudgingly being forced to rescue her, the caravan finally arrived in Dawson City, Yukon, featuring the local Dawson Hash House with bear stew, a school and a community church
  • to his greedy surprise, Jeff was able to auction off his herd for a high bid of $40,000. The surprising highest bidder was Ronda, who outbid the lower offer of the co-owners of the hash house - Hominy (Connie Gilchrist), Grits (Kathleen Freeman) and Molasses (Connie Van). As a new arrival in town, the savvy, strong-willed entrepreneur was opening up a saloon known as Dawson Castle, in partnership with Gannon, that would inevitably usher in more lawlessness and greedy corruption. With her advantages of endless cash and beef, the self-interested Ronda would become the new overlord of the town.

Muddy Tents and Streets of Dawson City

Local Townsfolk in Dawson City

Highest Bidder Ronda Castle for Jeff's Cattle
  • Jeff was determined to resist the amorous, love-triangle intentions of both 'bad girl' Ronda and a pigtailed, tomboyish, freckly-faced French-Canadian immigrant named Renee Vallon (Corinne Calvet), whom he first met while sitting in jail in Scagway. He also urged the townsfolk to avoid conflict and withdraw from interfering, rather than opposing Gannon and his henchmen led by Madden (Robert J. Wilke) and Newberry (Jack Elam)
  • with their cash, Jeff and Tatum bought an existing gold mine claim, and were planning to evade Gannon and his hired men and leave town, but Tatum inadvertently and foolishly tipped them off (by buying extra coffee for the long trip). As the two men were uncovering their raft for a river escape, they were attacked and robbed - Tatum was shot dead while Jeff's right hand was hit and he was seriously incapacitated
  • after returning to Dawson where he was cared for by Renee, Jeff now chose to participate in an inevitable shoot-out between himself and the villainous Gannon and his lawless men. Jeff's tiny bell on his horse Pie's saddle-horn announced his arrival for a showdown. He held his Winchester rifle across his injured arm with his left hand, to take a stand with the community's residents (intimidated, powerless and persecuted miners) against the cheating Gannon and his gang
  • Jeff evaded a surprise ambush by the two henchmen (and shot both of them dead), but as Ronda ran out into the street to warn him, she was lethally shot in the back by Gannon. Jeff fired back at Gannon under the saloon's porch floorboards and killed him. He was supported by the armed and courageous townfolk who appeared in the street, to take back their city; the film ended with Renee supportively appearing at Jeff's side
The Concluding Climactic Shoot-Out in Dawson City

Jeff's Deadly Shoot-Out Against Madden and Newberry

Ronda Shot in Back by Gannon As She Warned Jeff

Gannon Firing Under Porch Floorboards at Jeff

The United Townsfolk Coming to Jeff's Rescue

Jeff Webster (James Stewart)

Jeff with Sidekick Ben Tatum (Walter Brennan)

Jeff Saved By Hiding in the Steamship Stateroom Bed of Ronda Castle (Ruth Roman)

Disruption of Hanging in Scagway, Alaska

Ronda Revealed to be in Cahoots with Judge Gannon

On the Scenic Trail Headed Northward into Canada (Yukon) and Dawson City

Gannon's Hired Gun Madden (Robert J. Wilke)

Jeff Shot and Seriously Injured, While Tatum Was Killed

Jeff Cared For by Renee

Jeff Also Loved by Ronda

Final Image: Jeff With Renee (and Pie's Saddlehorn Bell)


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