Film Comment - 08/01/2006
"[A] vividly physical experience, in which the California and Colorado mountain locations are just as forcefully present and alive as the thick-skinned yet surprisingly vulnerable characters."
Description by OLDIES.com:
"Plain arithmetic. Money splits better two ways instead of three," smooth-talking outlaw Ben Vandergroat reasons to his captors, three bounty hunters thrown together by chance. They're taking him to justice in Abilene, but Ben has other ideas. If he can set the men against each other -- play on their greed, their fears, their vanities -- he may be able to make his break to freedom. In the third of his five landmark Anthony Mann-directed westerns, James Stewart stars as the relentless leader of bounty hunters caught in the snare of the hunted (Robert Ryan). Tough, sweating with tension, and towering as tall as its breathtaking Colorado Rockies setting, The Naked Spur is simply "one of the best Westerns ever made" (Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide).
James Stewart stars as a bounty hunter tracking down a vicious outlaw and his beautiful companion. During the pursuit, Stewart picks up two traveling mercenaries who join him in his quest. Academy Award Nominations: Best Story and Screenplay.
After being duped by his faithless wife, Howard Kemp, a Civil War veteran and former rancher, accepts work as a bounty hunter. His assignment: bring back a ferret-eyed outlaw from the Colorado Rockies and collect $5,000. Just enough money, Kemp figures, to invest in another ranch. Two rather shifty men, a disgraced cavalryman and a piggish guide, are ordered to assist Kemp. The hunters find their prey, Ben Vandergroat, with ease. They tie him up and head back. But the outlaw has criminal savvy to spare. Through a series of mind games that play on each man's greed, Vandergroat pits the bounty hunters against one another. Now, for Kemp, staying alive takes precedence over starting a new life!
THE NAKED SPUR was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1997.