I’ve debated writing this review; other films I’ve already seen I essentially “ignored” and simply left them watched then moved on when re-watching them recently.
Of course, I’m referring to, for instance, The Godfather–a film essentially all of you has seen. If you haven’t, I suppose I shall have to be shocked.
However, one of the reasons that I chose to write this is that I thoroughly enjoyed the film this time, now that it was closer to an old friend than an aged, daunting elder. Knowing about those great lines (Who could forget James Coburn’s response to Horst Buchholz’ praise for his shooting?) and moments made it into the excited waiting game for the great moments instead of the complete fog of wondering where it was going (outside of my vague memories of Shinchin no Samurai). I knew the characters, as well, who also came out more like old friends (“Ah, here comes ol’ Britt, badass as always..”).
Obviously the casting–beyond Elmer Bernstein’s score–is the most famous and wonderful thing about the film. Not, of course, to put Sturges’ direction down either, but really now, come on: Yul Brynner? Steve McQueen? Eli Wallach? Charles Bronson? James Coburn? Robert Vaughn?
Of course this is on some level pretty damn funny; we’ve got a Russian and a German playing an American hired gun and a Mexican peasant turned gunfighter and a Brooklynite playing a Mexican bandit.
But damn if they don’t all pull it off.
Well. Brynner hadn’t quite eliminated his accent, but it doesn’t matter.
Whatever the case, this is certainly the only good old fashioned American western I own–and almost the only one I’ve consciously and voluntarily watched¹–and I’ve finally come to more understand and accept it and damn it’s a good one.
There’s really, of course, not an awful lot more to say, I guess. Watch it, if you haven’t. If you can’t stomach the bombastic American style of western, then at least try Peckinpah or Leoné.
EDIT: I’d almost forgotten; I thought of it and said at the time I first watched it–as apparently “the experts” agree– that the reason I DO appreciate this particular “AMERICAN” western is because it was where Peckinpah “began” and where the spaghettis “began” as well, something I noticed on first watching it, actually…
¹I saw Shane in Greenbriar Theatre in Boone for my intro to film class.