The Naked Spur

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The Naked Spur is a 1953 American western movie directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart in their third collaboration. The screenplay was written by Sam Rolfe and Harold Jack Bloom. The original music score was composed by Bronislau Kaper and the cinematography was by William C. Mellor.

The film was shot just north of Durango, Colorado. Engineer Mountain can be seen in several shots.[1][2]



In March 1868, Howard Kemp (James Stewart) is tracking Ben Vandergroat (Robert Ryan), wanted for the murder of marshal in Abilene, Kansas, on March 12, 1868.

Kemp, now on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains in Southwestern Colorado, meets a grizzled old prospector, Jesse Tate (Millard Mitchell), on the trail and enlists him to help for $20.00. Tate assumes that Kemp is a sheriff and Kemp does nothing to say otherwise.

After trapping somebody on top a rocky hill, Kemp is convinced that it must be Vandergroat, landslides force them to retreat. Looking for a way around the hill they meet a Union soldier Lieutenant Roy Anderson (Ralph Meeker) from 6th Cavalry, just discharged from Fort Ellis, in Bozeman, and is heading east. Tate questions why Anderson isn't on the Bozeman Trail, which heads east from Bozeman, and is so far off of the trail. Anderson says that there is some "bad tempered Indians" whose chief's daughter fell in with a handsome young army lieutenant. While he explains this Kemp reads his discharge order, which reads "with dishonor, conduct unbecoming an officer: Character unsatisfactory, morally unstable". Anderson joins them. Tate tells Anderson that Kemp is sheriff. With the aid of Anderson who scales a sheer cliff face, Vandergroat is caught along with a companion, Lina Patch (Janet Leigh), the daughter of one of Ben's friends, Frank Patch, who was shot dead trying to rob a bank in Abilene.

Vandergroat sets Tate and Anderson straight on the fact that Kemp is not a lawman and the amount of the reward, $5000.00 for Vandergroat, dead or alive. Tate and Anderson decide they want a portion of the reward money and decide to help Kemp to get back to Kansas. Lina is convinced that Ben is innocent of killing the marshal.

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