The Missouri Breaks (1976) Directed by Arthur Penn
So last time we were talking about Ricki & The Flash which evoked some feelings of New Hollywood style cinema. The Missouri Breaks is the real deal, if perhaps leaning towards the end of that movement. "But hold on a goddam' minute" (evokes Western rancher accent), "we is cooking the goose, and snapping the bait". What am I going on about? OK, let's clear this thing up, those of you who occasionally read this blog (stats show it's close to quarter of a mil so far) know that the WESTERN PICTURE is my fave genre. But for those other readers, the Finnish ones, you only make up about 25% of the those who peruse the site (the majority come from the land of HOLLYWOOD), you may have missed that. Finland, come on. Before I bore you with The Missouri Breaks technicalities, I thought I'd mention how me and Astrid were trying to make more of the blog. We really love doing it and we think it can occasionally be really good (especially if we're not too tired). A sponsor with someone? Featured on some magazine page? Who knows, but we'll think about it and if you have any ideas, please leave a comment.
|Brando & Nicholson on set|
|Nicholson plays Tom Logan, a rustler|
Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando are great at their acting craft. They are also strange, they appear odd where ever they appear. They act with intensity and intellect. They seduce the viewer with their unpredictable ways, glimpses of humour and something else, something deep like sorrow. Both actors appear to bring a whole lot of themselves into their roles – or then it is a persona, but nevertheless no matter what role they play in a given movie, they always carry many familiar characteristics. Something personal shines through – and at bad times, something way too constructed sticks out. Nicholson and Brando represent many sides of the masculine Hollywood stereotype. Yet, they have distinctly troubling features which poke holes in the wholesome male facade. The Missouri Breaks is a strange film which makes room for these two weirdos on the same screen.
I hold Nicholson's performance in Reds as proof of his ability to play without satirizing his own cinematic persona. If the amazing Reds (1981) offers Nicholson at his barest, Something's Gotta Give sees him walk through an entire film as a caricature of a caricature (although, the gist of that film are the glimpses that he might in fact have more to him). The Missouri Breaks lands somewhere in-between. Nicholson's horse thief is full of wit, daring and sex appeal but he has a vulnerability, a mysterious yearning towards gardening and simple family life even. Brando is more out-there. He delivers the strangest lines and he mixes up camp, western, feminine, super masculine, agile, crazy, smart, cruel and whatever else in his portrayal of a bounty hunter. At times it feels like the role is just a joke through which Marlon Brando, the person, is laughing at the triviality of cinema. I don't think cinema is trivial, but Brando did. At least he claimed so.
As I write these thoughts down, I am torn. I feel like we are reviewing too many old films and Westerns on this blog. Way too often I end up filling my three paragraphs with men, even if the movie does have great women – like here – Kathleen Lloyd. Westerns are a genre that I used to not care for, but due to my long relationship with my blogging partner here, I have grown to understand the language of Westerns. I can learn to like, appreciate and analyze something even if it isn't my passion. But I don't love Westerns. Sometimes they make me want to be a guy. Other times they make me want to listen to Bruce Springsteen and cook pasta. Anyway, they usually create a yearning – for a fringed leather jacket if nothing else. This I need to cure with a little more of Nancy Meyers' Something's Gotta Give.
|Cute fringed leather jacket there Marlon!|