Western Watchins #99
You know what pisses me off sometimes? Me. I piss myself off because, even after living forty years I will still get my panties in a twist if goings-on don’t go down almost exactly as I’d expected. My wife wears a different pair of heels than I was expecting? Tension! My horse doesn’t head in just the right direction? Annoyance! Some rando exits an elevator in a terribly inefficient manner totally unlike how I, with my infinite elevator exiting experience, would have egressed? Death upon him and his for seven upon seven generations and may his greatest of great grandchildren still feel a cold shudder down their back forevermore whenever they’re asked “what floor please?”
Now, I am improving. I don’t freak out nearly as much anymore and when I do it’s not quite as paralyzing. I’ve learned from past mistakes and accept that new ones are always on the way. I’ve also learned that great and wonderful moments happen when perfect plans go awry.
I’ve never expected the best times of my life. They happen, and if you’re too dumb, too angry or too scared, you’ll miss ’em. Two Mules For Sister Sara is a wonderful illustration of this truth.
Clint Eastwood once again plays a bristly badass with little to his name save for a pistol, a horse and an unerring commitment to look out for himself. Seeing Clint portray precisely the same dude in all his best movies you might think it’s repetitive, but you have to ask yourself “who gives a fuck what I think” and remember that the answer is “no one!” Clint is perfectly typecast for a reason. If you have any doubts, sit through The Beguiled. By the end of that one you’ll be crying out to heaven for mercy. Good thing Shirley MacLaine is a nun.
She’s the titular Sara. I would normally make a “tit” joke here. But she’s a bride of Christ and it’s probably bad luck to talk about Jesus’ wife’s tits. While I may be relatively refined, the men man-handling our sweet sister at the start of the film are anything but and for that crassness earn some lead up their ass-ness. Thus begins the improbable partnership between a hellraiser and a holy woman. Both are embroiled with the Juaristas in a fight to ferret out the French incursion into Mexico but have differing reason for doing so. Sara works for God, her new escort Hogan, only gold. Despite the obvious disconnect, this sacred and profane odd couple manage to work together to avoid a military detachment, escape hostile Indians and even give a French supply train a blowjob it will never forget.
Bet you thought I was going for another cheap sex joke at the sister’s expense but no, I’m better than that. I’d never allude to the fact that since nuns spend so much time on their knees with their hands clasped and eyes closed that goddamn my balls love me some nuns! Whew, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system (and into some nun’s hypothetical mouth) we can proceed. Don’t think me a scoundrel either, although Sara is first and foremost one of the Lord’s faithful servants, she still manages to tease her traveling companion along the way.
One minute she’s rebuffing poor Hogan’s advances, the next she’s all “wanna see me hold the snake?” Come to think of it, maybe there’s more to this Sister Sara than meets the eye. That’s on top of everything else meeting your eyes. Two Mules For Sister Sara was beautifully shot in beautiful Mexico. It’s easy to forget in this day and age of green screen that the outdoors still exist and people are in them from time to time. It’s winsome to take pause then and acknowledge that the hills, sky, grass and critters you’re seeing were real. Sure it’s absurd, but generations from now on will instead just assume everything presented to them is fake. And they’ll be fine with that. The background in a movie or several people in that background, their “friends” online, the key lime flavoring in their unfortunately colored key lie pie: all fake. Get some dirt under your nails amigos, get too drunk or go and get lost somewhere you’ve never been before. There’s a big, wide and real world out there to be contested. And when you find some bastards that need explodin’, then get to explodin’!
The use of dynamite in Two Mules For Sister Sara is deliciously liberal. According to historical fact, dynamite wasn’t patented by Alfred Nobel until after the events of this movie. According to huge explosions, who gives a shit? Clint tosses highly volatile death sticks around with the nonchalance of a desk jockey tossing away an old TPS report. His cavalier attitude, coupled with a body count padding accuracy rate that’ll have you cheering from the edge of your seat, further cements Clint as King of the Cocksure Cowboys. I mean in case the Dollars trilogy, Joe Kidd, The Outlaw Josey Wales, High Plains Drifter and/or Unforgiven hadn’t convinced you as of yet. He sure as hell saves the day but not without more than a little help from his friends including a rag-tag band of Juarista freedom fighters and one delightfully derpy pinata. WARNING: the following is a short clip from the beginning of the final battle. Skip it to avoid seeing a delightfully derpy pinata sacrifice himself while Clint honors his derpy memory:
A great scene from a great movie that mixes the humor of our human condition with horror from the same. War is hell, rape indefensible, despotism to be despised. But keeping a smile on your face more often than not makes all the shit we gotta deal with and all the shit we gotta do to make those deals just a bit less shitty on the whole. We all make mistakes and life’s golden path makes mistakes for us if’n we’re not ambitious enough to do it on our own. Listen and hear Hogan’s wisdom as he spits “everybody’s got a right to be sucker once!” When your own personal Mexico gets invaded by some French-like fuckery through a fault yours or not, you gonna mope or are you gonna crack a confusing smile and lob some dynamite?
So what’cha gonna do brother?
Oh I get it. A Hulk “Hogan” gag. Shirley, I must be joking.
Not funny? Fine, I’m done messing around MacLaine!
6 rounds for Two Mules for Sister Sara and my point is this: die hard! Oh man I goddamn did it again! But I’m serious. Live long enough or just wander outside to get the mail and the improbable will fall upon you easy as sunshine. Plan and plan and plan all you want, expect those plans to be realized flawlessly, and then think of me when randomness takes one hilariously huge dump on those perfect blueprints of yours. Hogan and Sara didn’t plan on relying on much more than themselves, much less each other. Funny how things work out for the best when at first glance you just don’t think they’re gonna work out at all.
So ride true amigos and be on the lookout for bumps along the way because not all of them can be avoided.
Nor should they be.