Lance's Leading Lady
The ides of October marks the birthday of an actress of striking beauty and allure who brought energy and style to leading roles in several 20th Century Fox movies between 1947 and 1955 – and then left acting to become Mrs. Howard Hughes. Jean Peters (1926-2000) debuted as Tyrone Powers’ leading lady in Captain from Castile and then segued to roles in It Happens Every Spring, Viva Zapata!, Niagara, Pickup on South Street and Three Coins in a Fountain. Between Apache opposite Burt Lancaster and her final Fox feature A Man Called Peter, she was third-billed after Spencer Tracy and Robert Wagner in the hell-for-leather CinemaScope Western Broken Lance (1954), directed by Edward Dmytryk (already having a great year with The Caine Mutiny). In this semi-remake of the 1949 House of Strangers transplanted to the frontier West, Tracy plays a King Lear-like cattle rancher whose territorial empire has cost him dearly; his cold, unloving ruthlessness has alienated his three sons by his late first wife (Richard Widmark, Hugh O’Brian and Earl Holliman), and after leading a raid on a nearby mine whose pollution endangers his herds, causes his adoring half-Latino son (Wagner) whom he’s fathered by his second spouse (Katy Jurado, a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award® nominee for her moving performance), to be jailed. Peters plays Barbara, the spirited daughter of the state governor, who becomes romantically involved with the rebellious Wagner. Amidst the testosterone on display, Broken Lance’s two female stars – birthday girl Peters and the majestic Jurado (High Noon, One-Eyed Jacks) – power its heartbeat. Twilight Time’s crisply detailed hi-def Blu-ray of Broken Lance (for which Philip Yordan won an Oscar® for Best Writing/Motion Picture Story) boasts a wonderful Audio Commentary with 87-year-old co-star Earl Holliman and TT’s Nick Redman. It rides tall on hi-def Blu-ray November 10; pre-orders open on October 28.