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Posts Tagged ‘Dirty Harry’

The Outlaw Josey Wales” — movie review
Today’s review is for the 1976 western “The Outlaw Josey Wales” starring (and directed by) Clint Eastwood in the title role.  Other main characters are:  Chief Dan George as Lone Watie (a friend / companion), Sondra Locke as Laura Lee (Wales’ love interest), Bill McKinney as Captain Terrill (the main bad guy), John Vernon as Captain Fletcher (a Confederate officer who turns traitor to his men), Paula Trueman as Grandma Sarah (a bigoted old lady who mellows by the end of the movie), Sam Bottoms as Jamie (a young Confederate who is saved by and then saves Wales), Will Sampson as Comanche Chief Ten Bears, and Geraldine Keams as Little Moonlight.
 
The basic plot is a farmer turned Confederate soldier’s revenge for a family slaughter by some pro-Union irregulars.  As usual, the bad guys neglect to kill the father (Wales), who learns how to shoot a gun, and then joins the Confederates to fight the Union.  When the war is lost, their leader (Fletcher) betrays the Confederates to the Union soldiers, who in turn, slaughter them – again, all except Wales and a youngster (Jamie) who escape to fight again.
 
Blah, blah, blah…  Wales saves the Indian girl (Little Moonlight), his new Indian friend (Lone Watie), and a Kansas family emigrating to Texas (the Grandma and Laura Lee).  One particularly interesting scene is a meeting / negotiation between Wales and Chief Ten Bears.  In exchange for each other’s lives, Ten Bears agrees to let Wales and his party live.  Wales agrees the Comanche’s can take any cattle they “need” during their annual migration from his herd.  Wales promises to brand his cattle with the “S” (snake sign) sign of the Comanche tribe, so they will know which cattle they can take in peace.  They exchange blood to finalize the agreement.
 
The final battle set piece is Terrill tracking Wales down at the new homestead and Wales team defeating Terrill’s.  Wales then chases Terrill down and kills him (Terrill) to finally avenge his family.  At the end, Fletcher is with two Texas Rangers, but fails to identify Wales to them, so they (Wales and Fletcher) can both start their lives over.
 
So, is this movie any good?  Is it entertaining?  Did I like it?  Yes.  Yes.  And, yes.  This movie is considered a “classic” in the genre (Western / Western revenge).  It’s listed as one of the 100 greatest Westerns of all time.  It’s dirty, grimy, bloody and has the laconic humor we’ve come to expect from “Dirty Harry” – I mean from Clint Eastwood.  As for entertainment, it’s not particularly realistic, but it’s Hollywood war and the good guy is supposed to overcome all odds to win out in the end – right?  (Hint: he does.)  And, yes, I did like it.
 
A word of caution to family viewers…  This is rated “PG” for language, a bit of brief nudity, a couple of covered-up sex scenes and a couple of “almost” rape scenes may be inappropriate for younger viewers.  The Wales character is supposed to be a loner, because his wife is raped and brutally murdered at the start of the film (aka: character motivation), so Wales saves the two female companions (Moonlight and Laura Lee) when they are similarly endangered.  I felt the scenes (violence and sex) were appropriate for the movie and the period (1970’s), and pretty similar to Eastwood’s post-“Dollars” trilogy Westerns.
 
Final recommendation: Strong to highly recommended.  If you are an Eastwood fan (or a wannabe), this is a must see movie.  If you are a Western genre fan, it is still a must see movie.  I found it better than Eastwood’s average in the “Man with no name / Dollars” trilogy, but maybe not quite as good as “Unforgiven“.  I saw some clips (the humor scenes) of this film on YouTube and I missed this film on original release, so I figured it was about time to get around to viewing it.  I’m glad I did and I’m sure I will view it again.  Although, I will probably re-watch “Unforgiven” first.
 
PS:  The title of this post is a misquote from the movie.  Wales (Eastwood) actually says:  “Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy.
 
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Bullitt” (1968)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the 1968 cop movie “Bullitt“, starring Steve McQueen in the title role as homicide Lieutenant Frank Bullitt.  The film also stars Jacqueline Bisset as Cathy (the girlfriend), Don Gordon as the partner (homicide Detective Delgetti), Robert Vaughn as US Senator Walter Chalmers, Simon Oakland as the gruff voiced boss (Captain Sam Bennett) and (in an early role) Robert Duvall as Weissberg (a cab driver).  There’s also a bunch of bad guys (who cares).
The basic plot is a some guy is running from the mob in Chicago.  He flees to San Francisco.  He is “made” by a doorman at a hotel and the mob sends a couple of professional contract hitmen to kill the runner.  We are introduced to the star and his partner.  Bullitt meets a big money / sleazy politician (Vaugh / Chalmers) and is assigned to protect a witness over the weekend until a Senate hearing on Monday.  The witness is (of course) the runner.
The protection goes south and the witness and the cop protecting him are shot.  The witness (ultimately) fatally.  Bullitt smells a rat and bends the rules to keep the case open.  Blah, blah, blah…  BIG car chase – for which the movie is FAMOUS.  The two killers are dead, but Bullitt feels the case still stinks and continues to work it (this time, with permission).
Blah, blah, blah…  Bullitt chases and kills the runner at the airport.  The END.
OK.  There are really only three reasons to see this film:  1) you are interested in seeing police movies from 50+ years ago.  2) you really are interested in checking out “Mr. Cool” aka Steve McQueen.  And,  3) the CHASE.  Did I mention the “chase” is over ten(10) minutes long and “visually” covers most of San Francisco?  No, in reality the areas filmed are not really contiguous, but what the heck…  IT is a GREAT chase scene!!
Final recommendation: strong recommendation.  This is considered a classic movie JUST because of the lead (McQueen) and the car chase, so normally I’d give it a “highly to must see” recommendation, but it’s really not that good a movie.  To me, the plot doesn’t make a lot of sense (even if it goes out of the way to hit you with plot checkpoints) and it is particularly unsatisfying.  The “real” bad guy in the movie is Senator Chalmers and nothing happens to him.  So, loose threads and no resolution.
Why “strong” then?  I like Steve McQueen as a big star in a number of films from when I was growing up, not the least of which are: “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Great Escape“.  And then, of course, there is “The Chase“.  Just as a bit of personal trivia / nostalgia, shortly after the movie, one of our local TV news stations shut down the block I was living on (a big hill in SF) and recreated the chase with one of their reporter cars jumping the intersections to “follow the news”.  It was cool to see our house on TV for months as this commercial was rebroadcast.  And, finally, if you watch this film, it’s easy to see where “Dirty Harry” (1971) comes from.
So, come for the “cool” and stay for the CHASE!
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