|Rod Steiger and Glenn Ford in Jubal.|
|I love how director Daves visually conveys|
the divide between Pinky and Jubal.
Pinky isn’t Jubal’s only problem. Shep’s beautiful wife Mae (Valerie French) takes an immediate interest in the drifter. When she confronts him during a moment alone, Jubal informs her that “we’re ending this before it begins.” She replies provocatively: “Are we?”
Pinky's dislike of Jubal turns into hatred when Shep selects the newcomer to be his new foreman. Rejected by Shep and Mae--who both prefer Jubal--Pinky seeks revenge by suggesting to Shep that Jubal and Mae are sleeping together. That lie festers into an ugly situation that eventually results in three deaths.
Jubal is loosely based on Paul I. Wellman's 1939 novel Jubal Troop. Described in The Saturday Review as "Anthony Adverse all over again," Wellman's sprawling tale traces the exploits of a man who killed his mistress' husband at age 18, romanced many women, sold stolen cattle, and made and lost a fortune in Oklahoma oil.
|Borgnine as Othello...I mean, Shep.|
Although Jubal falls in love with Naomi (Felicia Farr), a young pioneer woman, the key relationship in the film is between Jubal and Shep. As Jubal confides to Naomi, Shep is the first person since his father to show him any kindness. Shep, for his part, admires Jubal for his intelligence, but values most his trustworthiness. Indeed, when explaining why he chose Jubal over the more experienced Pinky, Shep states flatly it was because he could trust Jubal. The extent of Shep's trust becomes evident when he reveals to Jubal that he senses Mae has become distant. This is a topic the rancher would never broach with any of his other employees (least of all Pinky). So, it's no wonder that Shep goes into a blind rage when he believes that Jubal--the one person he trusted--betrayed him.
|Valerie French looking seductive as Mae.|
|Charles Bronson as Reb.|
Surprisingly, Rod Steiger seems content to repeat his performance as Jud from Oklahoma! (1955). In the biography Glenn Ford: A Life, written by the actor's son, Ford downplays the "method school of acting" made famous by Steiger, Marlon Brando, James Dean, and others. Ford said: "'Doing nothing well' is my definition of a good actor. One of the great misconceptions about this business is that you get in front of a camera and 'act.' That's the very thing you should not do. Be yourself--people need to identify with you. If they're not able to, you're in trouble."
Jubal is not the best of the Glenn Ford-Delmer Daves Westerns. That distinction belongs to the thoughtful, tense 3:10 to Yuma, which is universally recognized as one of the best Westerns of the 1950s. However, with its Shakespearean slant and its focus on the frailty of human relationships, Jubal justly deserves reevaluation and greater recognition.
The fine music score in Jubal was composed by David Raskin, who is best known for his theme from Laura. Mr. Raskin is the connection to the next film in this blogathon: The Bad and the Beautiful, which is reviewed by one of our favorite classic movie bloggers at The Lady Eve's Reel Life.