I have a theory that every movie where Millard Mitchell has a substantial role is going to be an excellent film. So far my theory has held up - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, THIEVES' HIGHWAY, WINCHESTER '73 - and now THE NAKED SPUR.
Jimmy Stewart is on the trail of a killer (Robert Ryan). He's tracked him to Colorado and with the help of two strangers (Ralph Meeker and Millard Mitchell) he captures the killer and his girlfriend (Janet Leigh). The killer quickly figures out that Stewart didn't tell the others about the $5,000 reward so he spills the beans in order to create a rift between his captors. The two want their part of the reward, so now these three armed men, one vicious killer and one confused female set off from the Rocky Mountains to Kansas.
The direction by Anthony Mann is great and the cinematography by William C. Mellor (A PLACE IN THE SUN, GIANT) is beautiful. Nothing life changing, but still a highly entertaining Western. Double-feature with ALONG THE GREAT DIVIDE.
Mann - Stewart westerns:
BEND OF THE RIVER
THE FAR COUNTRY
THE MAN FROM LARAMIE