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The Lusty Men

(1952 b 113')

En: 6 Ed: 7

An experienced rodeo man mentors a younger man for half the take, but the wife is worried her husband will be crippled or end up with nothing like the older man.

         Jeff McCloud (Robert Mitchum) is injured in a rodeo by a bull. He returns to the farm where he grew up. Jeremiah Watrus owns it now. Wes Merritt (Arthur Kennedy) and Louise Merritt (Susan Hayward) give Jeff a ride and invite him to dinner. Jeff gets a job as a cowhand, and Wes asks Jeff to teach him rodeo skills.

         Louise is upset that Wes entered a rodeo. Wes rides a bronco and ropes a calf, and he gives a check for $410 to Louise. He quits his job to earn money in the rodeo to buy a ranch. Louise tells Jeff that she is going too.

         In a barn Jeff stops gambling loser Buster Burgess (Walter Coy) from fighting. Rusty Davis (Carol Nugent) and Booker Davis (Arthur Hunnicutt) greet Jeff, and Booker shows his oft-broken leg. Louise meets Rosemary Maddox (Maria Hart) and Ginny Logan. Jeff helps Louise with a shower, and Al Dawson (Frank Faylen) meets her. Wes competes but does not do well. A bull tramples Buster. Wes rides a bull for the first time and does well. Wes gets $879 and gives Jeff half. Booker tells tall tales. Wes drinks. Grace Burgess (Lorna Thayer) is bitter that Buster was killed. Wes says he bought Grace’s trailer.

         Wes competes in several rodeos and makes more money. Louise is worried and does not watch. Booker says that Jeff is stuck on a woman. Louise tells Jeff that they have $4,100 for the Watrus ranch. Wes says he does not want to stop, and he objects to Jeff’s freeloading.

         Louise tells Jeff that she is through with Wes, and she puts on a sexy dress. Al and Rosemary just got married. Wes kisses Babs (Eleanor Todd), and Louise pours water on Babs. Louise asks Jeff to get Wes away from there. Jeff says he has stayed because of her. Louise doesn’t want Wes crippled. Jeff kisses her, and Wes calls Jeff yellow. Jeff slugs Wes.

         Jeff enters every rodeo event. Rusty tells packing Louise that Jeff is in the rodeo. Jeff is slow roping a calf, but he does well in bull-dogging with Booker’s help. Jeff rides a bronco; but his foot gets caught in the stirrup, and he is badly hurt. Louise weeps over Jeff as he dies. Wes passes an event and agrees to hire Booker and Rusty on his ranch.

         This realistic drama depicts the rodeo life with its dangers, thrills, rewards, and temptations.

Copyright © 2012 by Sanderson Beck

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