Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Man From Laramie (1955)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Man From Laramie (1955)

In director Anthony Mann's complex and compelling psychological western about obsessive revenge, familial unrest, and dynasty-building, with the tagline: "THE MAN You'll Never Forget!", was filmed in widescreen CinemaScope; it was often thought of as a retelling of the plot of Shakespeare's King Lear. It was the fifth (and final) western that paired director Mann with his favorite western actor James Stewart; the other four films between them in chronological order included: Winchester '73 (1950), Bend of the River (1952), The Naked Spur (1953) and The Far Country (1954):

  • as the film opened, supply wagons were traversing through hostile Apache territory near their destination - the isolated western town of Coronado, New Mexico
  • the title character (the 'man from Laramie') was in actuality a US Cavalry officer Captain named Will Lockhart (James Stewart), posing as a mule-train wagon driver bringing three wagonloads of supplies from Laramie to the town of Coronado, NM; after deciding to camp for the night, he surveyed the aftermath of a nearby massacre of a 12-man cavalry patrol detachment at Dutch Creek that claimed his younger, green Army lieutenant brother's life months earlier; throughout most of the film, Lockhart's main obsessed goal (kept secret through much of the film) was hateful revenge against those who had sold repeating rifles to the Apaches
  • Lockhart was accompanied by grizzled loner Charley O'Leary (Wallace Ford), who knew of his traveling companion's vengeful nature: "Hate's unbecomin' in a man like you. On some men it shows"
  • in the town of Coronado, NM, Lockhart delivered the supplies to Mercantile Store owner Barbara Waggoman (Cathy O'Donnell), a refined young woman who admitted she was ready to quit the business and return to the East Coast - Connecticut - after her father had died: ("I was all sold-out and was hoping I could stop being a storekeeper"); as a newcomer to town, Lockhart claimed to Barbara that he had come from Laramie, but that it wasn't his home: ("No, I-I can't rightly say any place is my home... Well, I-I always feel I belong where I am")

Waggoman's MERCANTILE Store

Store Owner Barbara Waggoman (Cathy O'Donnell)
  • Lockhart became suspicious when he noticed an automatic rifle hanging in Barbara's store, and her Apache store-helper explained: "Indian traded it for supplies"; Lockhart wondered to himself: "I wonder where an Indian would get a rifle like this?"
  • the next day as Lockhart was leaving town and loading up his three empty wagons with lagoon salt that Barbara had claimed was "free for the taking," he became embroiled in a struggle with Barbara's loutish, volatile, immature and psychopathic cousin Dave Waggoman (Alex Nicol), over trespassing charges and unintended theft of Barb Ranch salt (supposedly, it wasn't free for "strangers")
  • during the misunderstanding, Lockhart was lassoed and dragged through a campfire on his stomach in the dirt; the sadistic Dave also burned Lockhart's three wagons and shot his twelve mules; his surrogate brother Vic Hansbro (Arthur Kennedy) arrived and called off the humiliating and unjust punishment
  • Lockhart vowed to stick around and seek retribution: ("Now I figure this place owes me somethin' and I'm gonna make it pay"); he paid off his workers, but Charley remained behind to help Lockhart find information about who was supplying the Apaches with arms, claiming he had relatives in the surrounding area (he later explained how he was born from "an Irish pa and an Indian ma")
  • Lockhart returned to town and Barbara's store, where she warned him about the power politics of the "unfriendly" area, and her ruthless uncle Alec Waggoman: "It's a one-man country and Alec Waggoman's the man"; Lockhart complimented Barbara on being "sort of... beautiful"
  • the next day in town, Lockhart entered into a fist-fighting brawl, first with Dave, and then with Vic - the two 'sons' of influential, elderly patriarch Alec Waggoman; coming to Lockhart's defense as a bystander was Kate Canady (Aline MacMahon), a tough, headstrong female rancher in the area
The Waggoman Family: The Patriarch and Two 'Sons'

Alec Waggoman (Donald Crisp)

Dave Waggoman (Alex Nicol) - Hot-Headed

Vic Hansbro (Arthur Kennedy) - Responsible
  • the brutal struggle was interrupted by the arrival of Alec Waggoman (Donald Crisp) himself on horseback - the almost-blind (physically and emotionally), wealthy, autocratic and ruthless cattle baron patriarch of the 100,000 acre Barb Ranch empire; he insisted that Lockhart leave the area immediately, suspecting that Lockhart was a hired gun ("You'd better keep travelling, stranger"), but invited him to the Barb Ranch the following morning to pay restitution for his losses before sending him away
  • a conversation between Barbara and Vic in her store revealed that Waggoman's two rival 'sons' were engaged in a power struggle over inheritance of the Barb Ranch: (Vic: "When his time comes, he's leaving the Barb to Dave and me"); currently, Vic was more sensible and responsible as the ranch's hired foreman-manager than Alec's favored, incompetent and blood-lusting natural son Dave; Vic was Alec's surrogate 'son' who had been adopted and raised as an orphan; Vic's plan was to remain at the ranch and marry his engaged fiancee Barbara: ("I've worked my whole life for the Barb"), although she insisted on moving away from town: ("This is no place for us"); she also revealed how she despised her greedy uncle Alec for breaking promises with her recently-deceased father (Alec's brother)
  • Lockhart became acquainted with Kate Canady, one of Alec's long-time main rivals who owned a ranch at Half Moon that Alec had been trying to possess for 28 years; Lockhart was invited to her ranch and offered a job as her new foreman, but he declined; he hinted at his vengeful mission to seek justice for his younger brother; at one time much earlier, Kate had been engaged to Alec Waggoman, but was stood up by him
  • Lockhart visited the Barb Ranch the next day, where Alec negotiated with him and reimbursed him $600 for his losses of wagons and animals, but wouldn't answer questions about how he had responded six months earlier to the cavalry detachment's massacre on his ranch land at Dutch Creek; Alec explained how he was expecting Lockhart's arrival
  • Charley returned to the area, and informed Lockhart that the Apache "young bucks" were expecting to receive a couple hundred more repeating rifles from an unknown seller who had already been paid; Lockhart realized that he was being followed after leaving the Barb Ranch, and confronted the town's weasely drunk Chris Boldt (Jack Elam) who claimed he had information to sell; back in town, Lockhart was warned about fomenting further trouble by the Sheriff Tom Quigby (James Millican): "If you want a Christian funeral, you'd better leave some money with the undertaker"
  • shortly later, Lockhart was falsely accused and jailed by the Sheriff as the prime suspect in the knifing murder of Chris Boldt; while incarcerated, Alec visited with Lockhart and told him about his repeated haunting dreams of an unidentified murderous stranger (presumably Lockhart) killing his son Dave: ("He comes to kill my boy")
  • after receiving a temporary writ to bail Lockhart out of jail, the scheming and persistent Kate blackmailed him into accepting her offer to work as Half Moon's foreman: ("The Half Moon needs a foreman who the Barb respects")
  • in the meantime, Alec was becoming suspicious of some fraudulent accounting and paperwork regarding "beef tallies", and had always worried that his son Dave would be an ill-suited and incompetent manager of the Barb Ranch after his passing: ("You can't hold onto 100,000 acres by riding horse in a buckskin jacket. You've got to develop a head for figures"); Dave promised his father: "I'm going to try to be like you want me from now on"
  • the Waggoman family felt threatened by Kate's recent hiring of Lockhart as her hired gun, although Alec warned Dave about stirring up more trouble: "I didn't spend a lifetime building this thing up for you to fritter it away"; he seemed to be moving toward favoring Vic more than his true son Dave: (Alec: "Take care of my boy. Love him like a brother. And I'll love you like a son")
The Contrast Between Alec's Two 'Sons'
  • when Lockhart was riding alone to herd Kate's cattle and separate her cows from the Barb's herd in the high country, he had another violent encounter with an increasingly-volatile and crazed Dave who began firing at him with no provocation; after Lockhart shot Dave in the hand, Dave and his men retaliated; Lockhart was restrained and held by two men, as Dave shot him in his shooting hand at point-blank range with his own gun; wounded and in pain from the castrating shot, Lockhart cried out: "Why, you scum!", and then rode away defeated
  • in the midst of their strained relationship, Vic and Dave had both been complicit and involved in continuing gun-running arms-sales to the Indians, with an imminent sale of a cache of 200 rifles to the Apaches concealed in wooden boxes marked 'WIRE FENCING" within an open wagon; Dave rode to a high vantage point to light a fire to signal the Indians to complete the exchange; Vic followed after Dave and confronted him with his worry that the armed natives with 200 rifles would start a major war - they wouldn't only attack and kill Lockhart and everyone at the Half-Moon Ranch - but also everyone at the Barb Ranch: ("You don't know the Apache, Dave. You can't make a deal with them to raid the Half Moon and leave the Barb alone. Once they get those guns and start killin', there's no stoppin' them"); in self-defense, Vic shot and killed Dave when he drew his gun
  • Vic brought Dave's body back to the Barb Ranch, and falsely accused Lockhart of Dave's murder; the next day, the Sheriff warned Lockhart at Kate's ranch that the vengeful Alec was bound to target him for the killing in the near future; Lockhart responded: "I'm not runnin' away from something I didn't do"
  • after Dave's funeral, Alec rode alone to Kate's ranch to personally confront Lockhart; with an audacious camera tracking shot from his POV, Alec fired at Lockhart as he charged at him on his horse; when Alec's horse bucked him, disarmed him, and threw him to the ground, Lockhart continued to deny killing his son: "You think I killed your boy?...I'm not the man in your dream, Mr. Waggoman"
  • once Alec returned to his ranch, he noticed an exorbitant and suspicious bill of sale for fence wiring from New Orleans, and spoke to Vic about it: ("Since when do we use fence wire?") - it was proof that someone had been stealing money by padding invoices and was profitably buying and then selling guns to the Indians; when Vic wouldn't give a definitive answer to Alec about what he knew, the two rode to search in the hills for a wagon holding the rifles
  • when they scuffled together on the trail just before locating the wagon, Alec was accidentally pushed off his horse and rolled down a steep ravine - Vic presumed that the unconscious Alec was dead and left him
  • while also searching for the wagon, Lockhart came across the badly-bruised Alec, took him to Kate's place at Half Moon to tend to his injuries, and saved his life (although Alec was rendered totally blind); once Alec regained consciousness, he informed Lockhart at his bedside about the sale of guns to the Apaches by both Dave and Vic: ("I found out about the shipment of rifles. He [Vic] made Dave do it. He made Dave sign the order, too...He killed Dave. He tried to kill me, too"); Alec had now realized that in his dreams, Vic was the one who had killed Dave, not Lockhart: ("The man in my dream. He didn't come from far away to kill my boy. He was right here in my house, pretendin' he loved me like a son, Vic! That's the man you're looking for")
  • Lockhart immediately rode off to locate Vic in the hills with the rifle wagon as he was about to smoke-signal the Apaches; he confronted him ("I came 1,000 miles to kill you, Hansbro") and accused him of being complicitly guilty in the sale of guns that were used to kill his young brother at the Dutch Creek Massacre: "You sold the Apaches the guns they used, and you're just as guilty as if you pulled the trigger yourself"; Lockhart forced Vic, at gunpoint, to destroy the rifles he was intending to sell to the Indians, by helping him to push his wagon over the cliff; afterwards, Lockhart pointed his gun at Vic, but was unable to kill him in cold-blood; Vic fled but was shot three times (and suffered an arrow in the back) by the outraged Apaches

Lockhart Confronting Vic Who Was About to Sell Wagonload of Rifles to Apaches

Wagon with Rifles Pushed Over a Cliff and Destroyed

Lockhart Unable to Kill Vic in Cold-Blood
  • as the film concluded, Alec and Kate were both reconciled and were intending to get married once he fully recovered; however, there remained an unresolved relationship between Lockhart and Barbara
  • they bid each other goodbye outside near Kate's front porch; Barbara had already confirmed for Lockhart that she was planning to leave Coronado and move back East; he responded with the revelation that he was a Captain in the US cavalry serving in Laramie: "When you go East, you'll pass through Laramie. And, uh, if you should ask for a Captain Lockhart, almost anybody'd tell you where to find me." With some hope for their future together, she replied: "I'll remember that"

Will Lockhart (James Stewart) Surveying Aftermath of Apache Massacre

Charley O'Leary (Wallace Ford)

At the Salt Lagoons

Dave Waggoman (Alex Nicol)

Lockhart Lassoed and Dragged Through Campfire and Dirt

Lockhart's Three Wagons Set on Fire and 12 Mules Massacred

Kate Canady (Aline MacMahon) - Helping to Defend Lockhart from the Waggomans

Vic with his Fiancee Barbara Waggoman

Town Drunk Chris Boldt (Jack Elam)

Alec Waggoman's Recounting to Lockhart of Haunting Dreams of a Murderous Stranger

Alec with His Incompetent, Volatile, and Irresponsible Natural Son Dave

Lockhart Restrained by Two Men as Dave Showed Him His Injured Hand

Lockhart Shot in the Hand by Dave at Point-Blank Range

Lockhart to Dave: "Why, you scum!"

Repeating Rifles Concealed in Wooden Boxes Marked "WIRE FENCING"

Deadly Shoot-Out Between Vic and Dave

Alec Firing at Lockhart From His Charging Horse

Lockhart at Alec's Bedside

Goodbye Between Barbara and Lockhart


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