Posts tagged Westerns

Western Watchins #120

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If you ever watched Jaws 4: The Revenge and wondered if it could have been a better movie had a buffalo been chasing Ellen Brody around the Bahamas instead of a tired rubber shark, then 1977’s highest grossing film about a white buffalo (entitled The White Buffalo) might be just the kind of film about which you were wondering. This time around, the tortured soul tormented by an animatronic asshole animal is none other than Charles Bronson. Death Wish minus one architect vigilante and plus one inexplicably demonic bison is basically this movie. 

There will be a reckoning, but Charles arrives out west in need of redemption moreso than revenge. He has some Native American issues and some buffalo nightmare issues neither of which are fully fleshed out, moderately explained or even intensely alluded too. A few throw away lines and a few dream sequences, to ensure the producers were getting their robot buffalo money’s worth, is all as an audience we’re going to get from this movie. The White Buffalo is by far one of the hodgiest and podgiest creations I’ve ever come across during my walks through the Western genre. It’s a frontier Frankenstein’s monster featuring many historically authentic pieces that never congeal into anything at all resembling actual history. If you’re looking for a great example of this, look at this great example: 

 

 

Framing our protagonist is an iconic mound of buffalo bones, symbolic of the gross disrespect we as humans are capable of, the pile grim down to its last alabaster piece. Scenes like this were commonplace back in the outrageously over-hunted 19th century. In front of that sickly stack, wearing the goggles, fedora and not even one Colt 1851 Navy, is Wild Bill Hickok. Scenes like this never happened because history isn’t fucking stupid. The real Wild Bill would surely admit that the co-opting of his namesake for purely, I guess, narrative validity purposes was a bigger blindside than anything he ever encountered inside of Nuttall and Mann’s. Nothing at all against Bronson’s acting but his character had nothing at all to do with James Butler Hickok. Call him “Feral Frank Fuckit” and this would have instantly been a better production. Even “Santa Claus and Doctor Octopus Save Cheyenne” makes more sense than most of the mismatched material here. And at least the look was there for that one:

 

 

The ham-fisted fist-fucking of facts didn’t stop with Bill either. Tom Custer shows up but is never distinguished from his more famous brother George Armstrong Custer. He has a hard-on for Bill and his cavalry troops are gonna be the ones to give him his Happy Ending. Why does he hate Bill so much? Why does the white buffalo? Why do the writers of The White Buffalo? None of this gets answered, but it is true that the real Wild Bill took on at least two drunken 7th Cavalry douchebags one night in Kansas so see kids, Bronson really is the not real Wild Bill after all. And his hunting partner is none other that Charlie Zane. The real Charles Zane had a white beard, probably didn’t personally know Wild Bill Hickok, was a territorial judge in Utah and hated polygamists. Movie Zane had a white beard. The only quarry real Zane ever hunted was Mormons and that was only in courtrooms as far as I can tell. I gather that the only thing Jack Warden hunted down while portraying movie Zane was the craft services table. And don’t forget everything you know about Crazy Horse. Or do. It’s not going to matter.

 

 

Will Sampson of course kicks ass in the role. Few people can pull off sensitive masculinity, shading vim with vulnerability, as he always did. He was amazing as Ten Bears in Josey Wales, a character loosely based on an actual Comanche Chief and he’s amazing here as Crazy Horse, a character loosely based on words pulled out of a bag at random. Like cast mates Bill, Tom and Charlie, “Crazy Horse” is mildly recognizable and was thus included to lend his street cred to this gutter trash of a yarn. It’s as if the writing staff needed you to know a great deal about American history and then also be fucking retarded.

What wasn’t suffering from diminished capacity was this tale’s true star. The White Buffalo:

 

 

Here he is with Charles Bronson at the film’s premier and although he may look fake and plastic I can assure you, that is the real Charles Bronson. Creature effect duties fell to one Carlo Rambaldi. Does that name sound familiar? It did to me too, so I searched the internet and found this picture of him with a maquette of Hilary Clinton:

 

 

Rambaldi, an Oscar winning special effects maestro, was most well for his work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, various versions of King Kong, something called E.T. and…wha…DUNE and ALIEN!?!?! That Rambaldi? Jesus Christ, how retarded am I? Maybe I wrote The White Buffalo? Proper historical placement was lacking in this movie but the same can never be said of proper prop buffalo placement. He did drool a bit too much, like a Krispy Kreme icing waterfall or whatever you call that thing at a Krispy Kreme that glazes the “hot-fresh-now” doughnuts that I want to lay under or put my wife’s ass through, but yes, Rambaldi’s buffalo is a bit ambitious on the salivatory side still performing well however in all other aspects.

 

 

Here’s the beastie running full tilt. Many critics, who are assholes, argue that you can often see the mechanisms propelling him down the buried tracks upon which he trounced. Today this critter wouldn’t fare any better than a “B” movie but we weren’t all jaded, critical assholes back in the 70s. You could argue that modern technology has rendered practical effects obsolete but look at this CGI buffalo flying along from The Last Airbender:

 

 

Who’s the asshole now? It’s you asshole! CGI is slick and has its place but it should be a tool used in modern live-action cinema, never the whole tool box. White Buffalo‘s action sequences were edited in a way as to cover up most of the shortcomings. If they were there I didn’t notice or didn’t care. The bottom line is that robotic buffalo always look cool. If you don’t feel the same way, feel free to take your concerns up with:

 

These robotic buffalo from EPCOT’s “The Land” ride/attraction!

 

 

Or Terrashock the Buffaloid from the new Transformers: Robots in Disguise!

 

 

Or this amazing metal statue of a buffalo that just hasn’t realized he’s a robot yet!

 


 

Or this awesome buffalo-a-coaster that is also not a robot yet still speaks to me! For bonus confirmation ask the Indian between passenger cars four and five. That fucker knows himself some buffalo!

 

 

Or “Whitey B”, as I call him, the white buffalo who has more movies under his belt than most of us do!

 

 

He wasn’t just cool, he was cool as fuck. When he came charging at the camera it really did look a whole lot like someone was about to get fucked by one gigantic, drool dripping, fur covered, fuck machine.

WARNING: Do not Google “gigantic, drool dripping, fur covered, fuck machine.”

3 rounds in the cylinder for The White Buffalo. It’s not a masterpiece of the Western genre, it’s not even a masterpiece of the Sunday morning when I watched it instead of dusting, but I was enamored enough. Some sensible performances and immersive, period-accurate-to-the-point-of-confusion dialogue both had trouble making the meandering script do much except bring you from the title card to the credits. Lots and lots of famous figures in this one too but, like a bucket of big, dry dicks, putting them all in just because you can doesn’t mean it’s going to feel that great. I will never know why the buffalo was so mad, his I’m-going-to-mow-you-down motivation to remain forever a mystery. In the end though it wasn’t about the buffalo’s journey, or even Wild Bill’s. This movie was really only a complete and reasonable chapter in Crazy Horse’s life. In that way, this movie that made no sense makes a lot of it. 

We all play parts in each others’ lives, at times never fully grasping the good, bad or ugly we may have brought to our sisters and brothers. It can be obvious but more often the moments slip by without seeming important to us. We have to remember that those moments might have been entirely for someone else.

You ride true and it has a way of making more than just your own life better amigos. So, whether you’re facing down the storm or just a saccharine sunset, I think you know what to do.

Western Watchins #118

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We’ve had three weeks full of buffalo followed by one week full of bull. To shore up our cinematic smorgasbord, and bring you as many tasty treats as possible, it seemed like spaghetti should be on the menu this week. Light the Fuse…Sartana is Coming fills that bill perfectly. The original Italian title was Una nuvola di polvere… un grido di morte… arriva Sartana. That translates to “A Cloud of Dust, a Shout of Death, Sartana is Here.” If you’ve been paying attention that’s not so much Light the Fuse…Sartana is Coming but let’s not let language ruin a foreign language film. The five canon Sartana films are remembered well and well deserving of that remembrance. Full of violence, nifty weaponry and absurdly byzantine plots, the originals were successful enough to spawn about a dozen piss poor knock-offs including Sartana in the Valley of Death which if you’ll recall was about as fun as watching paint dry. On your balls. That you just accidentally cut off. With a corkscrew. Thankfully Light the Fuse…Sartana is Coming will keep your balls attached and even engaged as its own balls do a satisfactory job of staying to the walls. A big reason for all this testicular contentment is due to the film’s lead, Gianni Garko.

 

 

He is Sartana, who acts all classy and kicks every ass-y. A finely dressed farrago of the Man with No Name and James Bond, he was the gunslinging glue that held all the disparate directions of this narrative together. Interestingly enough, you may not be familiar with Garko until you recall he’s also Keith Carradine:

 

 

Garko strolls all over some unnamed Southwestern locale gleefully playing everyone against the middle. It’s A Fistful of Dollars taken up several notches. One of those said notches being a robot. You might think I’m shitting you but check yo’ self and find no shit! Sartana uses a blowgun, a grappling hook pocket watch, a trick derringer and a clockwork tiki head named Alfie:

 

 

Alfie’s involved in the only scene to make use of dynamite and it’s Sartana that uses it despite the title leading you to believe the only course of action, should Sartana indeed be coming, is to light up some explosives. Even without outrageous amounts of big-bada-booms I didn’t feel slighted by the show at any point. Sartana is a hero, he’s your good guy for the extent of the film, so I found it even more fascinating that his motivation was ultimately a selfish one. Don’t confuse selfish for disrespectful neither. One requires thoughtfulness, the other a lack of caring thought all together. I consider myself selfish. I don’t want kids because I value the many bonuses that come with being childless. I want something I get it. Wine, women or song…I do not hesitate to satiate my needs. But disrespectful?

Never.

You can take care of yourself without being a hurtful prick. You can be greedily mindful of your finances, energy and time without betraying your friends. You can be aimless without being aloof. Immature people do not act selfishly, the act disrespectfully. Of themselves and of all things around them. The world at large misinterprets this as rank egoism but the vainglorious can find glory. Those without courtesy however will forever be deprived. Sartana worked an entire territory, leading barmaids, brigands and all sorts of other bastards towards a showdown with one another simply to clear a path promising millions in gold and counterfeit cash. Revenge isn’t a central motivating theme here. Self-preservation and personal gain is all Sartana needs. Well, that and a pipe organ filled with dusty, desert death.

What?

      

 

You doubt Sartana?

Bad idea.

Do that and he…will…fuck you!

 

 

Several fucking ways actually. This thing is a cannon, a mortar and a machine gun and everyone he hadn’t previously fucked got fucked by this killer fucking keyboard. Suddenly Alfie doesn’t seem so far fetched. This scene was ridiculous but ridiculously entertaining. Lots of movies come close to this kind of not-at-all plausible perfection on the whole but they end up missing out for lots of reasons. Pacing, cinematography, a crappy script or crappy actors or both. I was surprised by this one because it came in a box set with God’s GunThe Price of Power and Sundance Cassidy and Butch the Kid, a movie I have not yet watched but will undoubtedly despise. You can imagine my unexpected pleasure then at finding this needle (made of Sartana) in a haystack (made mostly of shit!)

4 rounds in the cylinder for Light the Fuse…Sartana is Coming. This production zigged and zagged just when it needed too and when many others would have done exactly the opposite. It won’t be released from the Criterion Collection anytime soon but it did almost make purchasing that sad-sack twenty pack worth it all on its own. I’m quite sure I’ll watch it again one day. A day when I’ll drink some whiskey, and laugh with some friends, and just need to see some old time piano sort of thing go all WMD.

Amigos, that’s gonna be a pretty damn good day.

Western Watchins #117

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I have an uncomplicated relationship with John Wayne. The Duke’s movies almost never fail to disappoint me in some if not all ways. Stagecoach was my first and still holds as my favorite but The Searchers left me looking for all the time I’d wasted and The Train Robbers made me feel like I’d been run over by one. A train, not a robber. Then along comes McLintock!, a film loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and that age old adage “beat a woman with a coal shovel and she’ll be yours or you’ll just keep beating her.” I assumed that, due to the legend surrounding its star and his famous films, McClintock! would, assumably, be one wildly watchable Western. But, you know what they say. When you assume you watch McClintock! and fuck yourself good and rough like a baseball bat rubbed with chili pepper going in dry.

 

 

Maureen O’Hara had bruises for a week from filming this scene confirming that this movie wasn’t just a pain in the ass for me. McClintock! is supposedly comedic but comes across as such a bloated, un-funny mess I thought I was staring at Melissa McCarthy for two hours. One minute an Indian is going to be lynched, accused of foul play relating to a rancher’s daughter, only to have that daughter show up at the last minute to admit she’s really just a huge slut with an “oh man wouldn’t that have been funny if someone were hanged because I was off sucking this dude’s balls dry” look in her eye. She doesn’t say those exact words but that ball sucking stare is unmistakable. A solemn moment turns silly and just in case you hadn’t forgotten how close someone came to loosing their lives let’s have a slap-fight/wrestling match near a big mud slide overlooking a big mud pit so we can all get muddy because holy fuck mud is really goddamn funny!

 

 

Maureen is all “how dare you not invite me to an Indian hanging!” and Duke’s all ” What?!?! I’m missing an Indian hanging?” 

Maybe he’s not that callous, but John Wayne’s feelings about Native Americans are patronizingly supportive at best. In his films many are portrayed as strong and noble, fighting for their beliefs and their unique way of life, so while he truly may have seen them as such he also viewed them as a race well suited, perhaps even saved, by pioneering subjugation. In McLintock! the local Comanches are restless due to the fact it looks like the U.S. government is going from flaccid to flushed again, looking to fuck the natives one more time to clear the way for the white man. Wayne’s McLintock is set up as a kindly, understanding go between to argue on behalf of the tribe, but breathlessly to no avail. His speech fails to compel, his resolve lacks teeth. His words being little more than a show, for the narrative and for the viewer at home, that the Duke feels their pain but even he can’t stand against the bureaucratic nightmare that’s about to crush every native dream. This upsetting defeat sets up some Comanche incarceration, illicit Comanche outfitting, and an anti-climactic Comanche revolt. There was cause for concern that many a human life would be in danger but no one gets hurt and all the Indians run off and then the Cavalry shows up to save the day shouting “get the hell off of our land really your land you savage bastards!”

Again, they probably didn’t say that, but something has to lighten the mood. McLintock! is a funny movie dammit and a somber undercurrent of race extermination should never get in the way of a few laughs. Thankfully Chief Running Buffalo is always there:

 

 

Running Buffalo only knows enough English to repeat various combinations of “good party,” “where’s the whiskey,” and “we go home now.” Meets up with McLintock? “Where’s the whiskey?” Watching whole territory in a mud fight? “Where’s the whiskey?” Escaping into the desert with the Army in hot pursuit? “Where’s the whiskey?” I tip my hat to the screenwriters for keeping genocide so goddamn gut-busting. The other Comanche leaders were played with solemnity, Running Buffalo is Chief Hollywood Stereotype and sadly comes off as one prolonged wink at the audience conveying the notion that the plight of the Indians shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of this wacky ensemble piece.

If you can get past its enormously not-sidesplitting side plot you can set your sights on enjoying one enormously not-sidesplitting main plot. Lots of 1960s regulars to “enjoy” in this one acting as you’d pretty much expect. People like Jerry Van Dyke (just like a lesser known Dick Van Dyke), Patrick Wayne (just like a young John Wayne) and the one-two punch of Maureen O’Hara and Stefanie Powers (just like bitches!) The latter duo star as McLintock’s previously spanked, estranged wife and soon-to-be spanked, spoiled rotten daughter. As funny as these two bitches being bitches is supposed to be it’s not funny at all. Bitch! Father and (real-life but not onscreen) son work tirelessly to win the hearts of these two heartless hos but nothing really comes of it until, just when everything leading up to this point seemed to be saying “no,” both ladies come to their senses and say “yes.” Or “yes sir may I have another?”

 

 

How did they get that to look so authentic you may be asking?

 

Practice!

 

You aforementioned bitch!

 

 

McLintock! highlights lots of societally acceptable ass slappin’ but sadly no one ever takes it up a notch and chokes a bitch. That might have saved us all so much trouble.

2 rounds in the cylinder for this, my latest foray into the Dukedom. That’s right up there with God’s Gun and Lust in the Dust yet still better than The Wild Bunch which is somethin’ I reckon. Another positive to take away from the film is this very simple lesson, “be yourself.” McLintock never holds back his true feelings and doesn’t apologize for voicing them to your ears or fisting them to your face. That’s an outdated, even offensive way to live your life these days. Lots of thin skin and weak knees all over the world now. Folks have gotten used to coddling, the crutches of political correctness and the comfort of incessant computer confirmation so much so that their spines have atrophied effectively crippling their ability to own their own lives squatting then with spirits dimmed to no more than a flicker forever blown about by any preposterous but popularly prevailing wind leaving them condemned to an easy but oh so fucking empty existence.

Jesus…did you follow that? No one else did either. That’s why Facebook still exists.

This film doesn’t say much as a whole but McLintock’s personal actions manage to still say a whole bunch if you’re listening.

Never give up on yourself, and who you honestly are.

Once you do, you can never ride true. And if you ain’t doin’ that, it’s best you just go ahead and get off the goddamn road. Those of us that give a shit, talkin’ it and backin’ it up both, will surely appreciate the extra room.

Western Watchins #115

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It can be very cool when everything just falls into place. When everything just falls into place buffalo it’s damn near amazing. I’ve been riding high on a personal, emotional buffalo for a few weeks now and this film contributed more than you’d imagine to that impassioned intoxication. Seems there was once a man named Charles Jesse “Buffalo” Jones. He was a frontiersman, conservationist and early friend among the white man to the beasts of the Plains what when they had almost no white man friends. The real Jones’ life was full of adventure and while he supposedly spanked an unruly bear at one time he never did punch a cougar in the face, rescue orphaned wilderness babies or seek revenge atop a buffalo as his movie counterpart did. Buffalo Rider sought then to honor this great man pretty much in name only because farming, no matter how extreme, can’t hold a candle against hand to hand cougar combat. Although bear spanking is absolutely boss. Another boss who continues spanking numerous beasts to this very day is one Rick Guinn.

 

 

That’s him mounted up on Grunter, an ornery bison he vowed to ride or die trying during his time working at a wild animal sanctuary in Utah back in the Seventies. Rick’s first ride took him and his soon to be best bud through four different fences, three of them made of barbed wire. It didn’t take Grunter long to realize he wasn’t so much carrying a man as he was a pair of balls that would give God’s a run for his money. Rick Guinn is what happens when you slam Chuck Norris into Jeremiah Johnson inside of a supercollider made out of Clint Eastwood. A good guess says this man is firmly in his sixties now yet he still leads hunting expeditions all over the globe, he still keeps a small herd of bison and is still as genuine and genuinely bad-ass as he appeared on camera almost four decades ago.

How could I possibly know all this about such a famously reclusive individual?

Because Rick and I are what you could call “two guys that have exchanged a few awkward emails.” Oh yeah, totally almost sort of real life friends with the actual Guy on a Buffalo. And yes, actually awkward because he emailed me back so quickly after I first reached out to him that I was sure I’d been hacked and that someone was impersonating Mr. Guinn for reasons unknown. It’s an odd, paranoia inducing world we live in when one day you instantly fall in love with an obscure Western and the next you’re talking to its star like it’s nothing. “Star” might even be too much of a word, not from me mind you, but for the man himself. 

Buffalo Rider is a boot straight up your ass revenge flick with a dash of Hallmark holiday feel-good bundled inside of nature documentary. There’s bad guy trampling, a friendly raccoon, one kindly old narrator guy and, tying it all together, one of the most authentic performances from a lead you will ever see. Rick Guinn portrays unfettered outdoorsman Buffalo Jones to (admittedly embellished) perfection because he’s spent his actual life unchained and outside too. The aw-shucks simplicity that comes from Rick isn’t acting, it’s just who he is: a man who doesn’t say much because he’s too busy actually doing. So then ELO’s “Wild West Hero” starts playing. Playing on my phone as I’m sitting here in my cubicle. Sitting here dressed in dress pants and slightly worn dress shoes thinking. Thinking “I’d like to be a Wild West Hero.”

Knowing that I’m not one. 

Rick Guinn’s days have been filled with untold adventure. Shit I never thought a man could do, shit Rick never figured a man couldn’t.

And that’s the soul of Buffalo Rider that I fell in love with. This is a poorly produced, oddly paced and mildly edited movie. It’s not pretty but its heart is true and amigos, you know how I choose to ride. Its story is mostly made up, but people out there like Rick do exist. In fact Rick is exactly one of those people. People who never hesitate to help those in need:  

 

 

People who will, should the need arise, never fail to punch a mountain lion right in his mountain lion mouth:

 

 

People who would never consider themselves heroes and yet they live day to day in some of the most goddamn heroic ways you could ever imagine. I’m referencing certain real folks generally and one certain real guy specifically by citing some of the silliness in this film and we’ll all maybe see the point and we’ll all maybe laugh. But how many of us are brave enough, as so many were in the past and so few are today, how many of us could ever find the courage to live in this world as we felt truly called to? Free of jobs that don’t stimulate, free of relationships that don’t fulfill. Free to speak our minds and follow our hearts. Bound by no man and thus completely our own man. If we, the still frightened, managed to face our fears we would easily forge “not gonna happen” into “mother fucker it just did!”

5 rounds in the cylinder for Buffalo Rider and I’m not at all funnin’ ya’. This movie is dated and as unpolished as they come. It also contains some of the most memorable action sequences, scripted or otherwise, of any Western I’ve ever seen. Not since Joe Kidd has a movie’s final set piece crashed and banged so satisfyingly. A tattered tale whose protagonist seeks vengeance because it’s needed, while longing to be left alone because a man needs both savagery and solitude lest he ever forgo one completely for the other.

That balance is the key to strength on any journey.

I stand at what may well be the greatest crossroads I’ll ever come to in my life. The West is calling. And I’m terrified to hear it. But I know I can’t ignore it. And I know I’m thankful. I’m thankful for everything that’s led me to this exact moment. And realize that this old movie Buffalo Rider, and my new friend Rick, came along at just the right time.

Western Watchins #113

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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.

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