I’d like to preface this week’s Watchins by asking you all to recall the greatest pain you have ever known in this life. You know the one, when nerves screamed and your mind’s grip on reality wavered. The one that left you emotionally shattered and maybe even spiritually compromised. Rest on that remembered misfortune for a moment now as I convey to you that nothing in your experience thus far or likely hence will ever have the potential to bring you as much suffering as this fucking film. Using your urethra for giving birth to a baby made of napalm and thumbtacks would make for unparalleled peace by comparison. A short list of better ways to spend one hundred and fifty eight minutes in lieu of watching Paint Your Wagon include, but is not limited to, having a dozen strokes or sifting through a dump truck filled with shit looking for a toothpick made of more shit!

On paper, Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin and Jean Seberg together in a western musical seems like it can’t miss. In reality, FUCK!

Now you know Clint Eastwood from the Dollars Trilogy and you know Lee Marvin from your local liquor store, who you might not be familiar with is Jean Seberg.

 

 

She’s a beauty, don’t let that blank, traumatized stare fool you. And let her boobs also not fool you. That cigarette in her hand leads me to believe that this pic was snapped in between takes just as she’d seen some of the dailies and realized that the horrors their movie’s release was about to unleash upon humanity would rival those of the Third Reich. Everyone on set seemed to be having issues. Eastwood citing the oft delayed and fantastically over budgeted experience as one of the reasons he became a director while Marvin cited anything that would get him another drink. No iced tea stand-ins here, if you saw “whiskey” in his cup it was whiskey and if you saw “gin” it was gasoline. He had fought repeatedly with the director on the issue and refused to work, couldn’t work and didn’t work unless he could actually drink on set. An edgy move from and edgy man. When one reporter asked him if he was an alcoholic, needing booze simply to function, he silently replied

 

 

Even with a blood alcohol level of “all of my blood is alcohol” Marvin sang well and took the most memorable tune, Wand’rin Star, to number one on the charts in the UK and Ireland, even holding off The Beatles Let It Be for a bit, because no one ever wants to hear that shit. Not even the Irish.

Everyone including the Irish, however, seemed to like this movie as it enjoyed moderate success in the theaters although it never recouped its immense production costs. Paint Your Wagon was the sixth highest grossing film of 1969 even beating out the famous The Wild Bunch the most bloviated the pile of the shit I have ever the seen. I know Once Upon a Time in the West was even further down that list but it wasn’t appreciated then as it is now…as the greatest Western of all time. Before you beg to differ, you might want to shut that whore mouth of yours so The Wild Bunch doesn’t come along to drop it’s useless balls down your throat.

Goddamn that movie sucked.

Paint Your Wagon sucked too but in different sucky ways. It sucked the light from my eyes and the warmth from my heart. It meanders so relentlessly that all the worthwhile plot directions are, well, directionless. You want an exploration of greed and where that will take you? It’s here, somewhere, in almost three hours of asinine asides. What about a treatise on loyalty, through thick and thin, business and pleasure, sticking to your brother while both dealing with the damages life brings to your table? Sure, great underlying thread about all that. Underlying mounds of misguided attempts to turn this formerly popular stage production into an epic up on the silver screen. The movie should have ended once the topic of open marriage was broached and subsequently accepted with aplomb. Oh yes, Paint Your Wagon deals with having your wife’s wagon painted by another man. The very term, “open marriage”, as we know it today wouldn’t even enter the vernacular for another three years so this idea was a tad progressive. In a wholesome western setting it was unexpectedly shocking and instantly refreshing.

None of these interesting messages though, not one bite from any of this food for thought was enough at the end of an awfully long day to move me towards even a passing appreciation for this film. A grand cast, a grandiose location, an entire town built in the middle of nowhere with saloons, hotels, brothels and even grandstands…all of this spoke to the fact that everybody involved was expecting big things. The Hindenburg was big too and, like this film, largely empty. That dirigible failed spectacularly in an instant, Paint Your Wagon has failed slowly with time.

2 rounds in the cylinder though I’m sure the powder is wet and useless due to my tears. Tears not from the doldrums this film subjected me to but from out that sad and special misery born when you can clearly see an opportunity was missed. By minutes and miles. I was so upset by the thought that maybe one of you, my faithful few, might somehow think despite my fervent words of warning that Paint Your Wagon could still perhaps be an amusing aside at some point in your future that I took it upon myself to conceive of, engineer and construct a camera capable of capturing on film a true image of the human soul. I did just that, watched Paint Your Wagon once more and then as the final credits waned hesitantly took the following photo to stand for all time that you may stare into the face of exactly how this movie made me feel:

 

 

So, if now you decide to throw caution, along with all good goddamn advice to the wind, by watching this movie know that you have but one person to blame. Skip past this one, or run if you’re able. Like a gold nugget shoved up an elephant’s ass, there might be something valuable in there but amigo, it’s not worth the trouble.