Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Big Country

Question: How many people consider themselves to be a gentleman?
And what does it mean to actually be one? What ideals should you follow and how should you conduct yourself?
The answers seem pretty obvious. I like to think of myself as a gentleman and I try to hold myself to a high standard of conduct.
But this movie really shows it it means to be a gentleman.
It's the 1958 classic, The Big Country.
Westerns are a staple of American culture. They're so ingrained that everyone knows that when someone's referred to as a 'Cowboy cop' it means they solve their problems with violence. While they uphold the law they do it mostly by disregarding it. Westerns have encouraged this attitude.
This movie takes a different approach.
As was typical for its' day we open with the credits.
At least something's happening in the background
The musical score was nominated for an Oscar, and it's easy to see why.
Seriously, that's frigging badass. Probably the best Western theme of all time, rivaling 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly'.
And so that wagon from the opening credits makes its' way into a small town and our star disembarks.
This Guy
That's wealthy, retired sea captain, James McKay, as played by Gregory Peck.
It's notable that the first thing he does on screen is help a lady out of the carriage and thanks the driver.
And he has a snazzy hat.
He looks around and notices people staring at him. It's pretty obvious that he doesn't fit in. But he's greeted by Steve Leech, who's there to escort him to the Terrill ranch.
Not only does he have a snazzy hat, but he has a snazzy scarf too.
Before that though they're going to pick up Patricia, McKay's fiancee.
On the way they're greeted by Buck Hannassey, who snarks to his friends about tipping their hats to him.
It's pretty obvious that they don't like each other.
Ignoring them though, Leech and McKay meet with Patricia, who immediately greets McKay with a hug and a kiss.
Leech looks delighted
Leech mentions that the Hannassey boys are in town and have been drinking, but Pat sends him away, insisting that they'll be alright.
Not even seven minutes in and we've set up a love triangle. Modern film writers should take notes.
Inside Pat introduces her old friend Julie, who's mentioned to be a schoolteacher but is never seen actually teaching anyone.
Julie's shown to have a quick wit and she hits it off with McKay instantly.
Don't you just hate it when you meet the perfect person but they're engaged to your best friend?
After a quick bit of exposition about how rich he is we cut to Pat and McKay travelling to her father's ranch. Along the way however, the Hannassey's show up again and stand in their way. McKay prepares to slow down and have a chat but Pat dislikes them, calling them savages and low-lifes.
So she speeds up straight through them.
And yet she still drives better than my sister
Buck Hannassey takes offense to this and gives chase. During which he and his friends do some pretty nifty riding tricks, like standing on the horse and at one point one dismounts and chases his own horse.
Isn't context grand?
One of the Hannassey's jumps onto the carriage horses and pulls them to a halt.
"Look Ma, no CGI!"
Buck Hannassey pulls up alongside and, in mocking tones, starts praising how upstanding McKay looks. McKay of course takes it in good humour, but Pat gets rude and insulting towards Buck.
Then she draws a gun.
Okay, to be fair Buck had stolen McKay's hat and thrown it into the air for his brother to shoot at, but they hadn't made any threats against their persons.
Pat went straight for pointing the gun at Buck.
Not only a snazzy hat, but a snazzy jacket too.
McKay snatches the gun away from her but gets lassoed by the Hannasseys for his troubles. They hold him in place while Buck rides dangerously close.
After only a short while they get bored and accuse him of not being much of a man before riding off.
While Pat is angry about the whole thing McKay just laughs it off, comparing it to the time he was keelhauled over the equator. As far as he's concerned it was just a mild hazing and nothing to get worked up about.
Back at the town the Hannasseys go to the bar to get drunk, but Buck takes off to see Julie.
She looks delighted to see him
Buck is rather forceful and rude with her, but he does take the hint eventually and leaves.
But not until he gives her a warning about choosing sides between the Terrills and the Hannaasseys.
I think he wins the award for snazziest clothes
Buck is a bit of a jerk, but if people are insistent enough he does back down.
Still, I don't think we're meant to like him.
The next morning we're treated to the theme music again as McKay steps outside to view the vast landscape.
Meh, I give it a 6/10
The scene goes on for a full minute. Just McKay looking around. You don't get that in films these days, the producers would be too scared that audiences would get bored and leave.
Movies don't really respect us anymore.
McKay goes down and says good morning to the ranch-hands, greeting everyone he meets until he comes across the stablemaster, Ramone.
Just as he's having a nice chat Leech comes up.
Leech asks if McKay is interested in an early morning ride. When McKay agrees Leech tells Ramone to put him up on Old Thunder.
You can all tell where this is going.
This is Ramone's response. Not a great sign.
As Ramone gets Old Thunder ready McKay surveys the large crowd that has gathered.
Leech acts all jovial, talking about the weather and such, but it's clear he's waiting for something.
So McKay just says "Some other time" and walks away.
Wait, what?
Just as Old Thunder starts acting up and throwing Ramone around an old man walks up. Leech and McKay both greet him as 'Major' and he explains the standing joke about putting strangers on Old Thunder only to watch them get thrown off.
Later on the Major and McKay have a talk inside his house. The Major is actually Henry Terrill, Pat's father.
They sit down to dinner and McKay offers up a gift to the Major, his own fathers' dueling pistols. Turns out that his father was a good man who died during a duel over a silly argument, which explains McKay's distaste of violence and weaponry.
"Did these ever belong to a man named Chekhov?"
I find it rather unusual that a man who loved his father so much would willingly carry around the weapons that killed him. Although I don't exactly get along with my own father so I don't have a point of reference. There's certainly not much chance of him dying in an honourable duel.
As they eat they talk about his earlier meeting with Buck. The Major tells McKay that he needs to show people that he can protect himself, but McKay disagrees, insisting that he's dealt with people like the Hannassey's in every port he's come across.
The Major insists differently though and proceeds to insult them for a full minute of screentime.
McKay just listens.
And you can tell that his opinion of the major has lowered considerably
Pat comes down the stairs and requests coffee from the servant. Then Leech enters, saying that his people are ready. Ready for what? A hunting expedition.
Hunting for Hannasseys.
McKay is visibly distressed at the notion and everyone turns silent for a minute.
A full minute.
Movies back then did not rush.
McKay goes outside to try and talk the Major out of it. He points out that there was no real trouble until Pat reached for her rifle but the Major doesn't care.
And McKay calls him out on it.
Not only does he not like being involved in violence, he doesn't like being the excuse for it either.
The Major and his war party ride off anyway. Pat storms inside and angrily starts to get dressed while McKay watches the men ride over the horizon.
The party reaches the Hannassey ranch in Blanco Canyon. The camera takes the time to show that the approach is very narrow and defensable.
When they get there the Major demands to see Rufus, but neither he nor Buck are around.
So the Major decides to let his men scare the cattle and shoot holes into the water tower.
Yeah, this is a sure sign that you're the good guys
It's notable that even Leech, who hasn't exactly endeared himself to us, questions these actions, but the Major just smiles and lets it continue.
After being assured that Buck isn't there the Major calls his men to go, leaving the remaining Hannasseys to salvage as much water as they can.
Back at the ranch McKay goes down to see Ramone and asks to ride Old Thunder whilst nobody is around to watch.
Ramone says no
After a funny little scene where Old Thunder keeps removing the saddle cloth McKay climbs up and finally rides him.
It goes about as well as could be expected
But he didn't become a Captain just because of his family connections, he earned it. So he gets back up and climbs onto Old Thunder once again.
It goes even better than the first time.
The screen fades out on him looking determined and we move to the town, where the Major's group catches up with three of the Hannasseys, but Buck is nowhere to be found.
And with such a cunning hiding spot, it's no wonder.
The other three get lassoed and dragged through the town before being locked in the barn with 20 of the Major's men.
So we cut back to McKay riding Old Thunder.
Looks like it's going swimmingly
Despite having been run ragged, once again he gets back up and tries again. But this time Old Thunder has tired himself out, letting McKay win.
The face of a real winner.
Back in town Buck is watching helpless as his brothers get the snot kicked out of them.
And that's how you generate sympathy for the bad guy.
The Major orders the barn door to be opened and Leech steps out, closely followed by the three Hannasseys, who slump to the floor barely conscious.
This is a very important scene. Up until now we'd only seen Buck and his brothers as antagonists, pestering McKay and the townfolk. But now it's revealed that their anger towards the Terrills is more than justified.
Sure, Buck's an arsehole, but he's an arsehole with a point.
That night the Major is holding a party as celebration of McKay's arrival. Julie enters and the Major mentions how he's been trying to buy the Big Muddy from her for years.
This isn't the first time the Big Muddy has been mentioned, Buck spoke about it when he visited Julie.
This is how you do foreshadowing people.
Pat makes her big entrance and the Major makes a speech about how proud he is of his daughter and that he approves of her choice of husband.
Something Leech looks ecstatic about
Everyone starts dancing happily, although Leech does take some time to insult McKay to Pat. Then there's a funny scene where a tipsy old man mentions that America's a big country (Title Drop) and asks if McKay's ever seen anything so big.
"A couple of Oceans." was not the answer he was expecting.
A nice, timely little touch to remind you that McKay was a naval Captain.
I'll tell you why it's so timely in a little while.
First though, McKay and Julie have a dance where he implies, politely, that he's not very fond of the Major.
Then a man bursts in holding a gun.
"Have you heard the good news about Chandler's Law?"
That's Rufus Hannassey, the patriarch of the Hannassey clan and owner of Blanco Canyon. Buck told him about what happened (And presumably he found out about the water tower himself) and he's come to have a talk with the Major.
What I love about this scene is that Rufus doesn't shout or do anything to get anyone's attention. He just stands there quietly with a gun in his hand waiting for people to notice him.
And we wait with him. The camera does close in on his face for a few seconds to show his anger, but then it cuts to a crowd shot as people slowly begin to notice.
Once he has everyone's attention though he doesn't waste it, calling the Major a coward and a crook.
Burl Ives won an Oscar for this role. He earned it.
Once again the Big Muddy is mentioned, but this time it's pointed out that if the Major were to buy it then he wouldn't let the Hannasseys have access to it, killing off all of their cows of thirst.
This is just one transgression he lists off, but he says that what really got him mad this time was the Major scaring the women and children of his ranch.
Again, a great piece of dialogue here, showing that Rufus has been putting up with a lot of abuse from his neighbours for thirty years. Easily most of Buck's lifetime.
He ends his rant by daring the Major to finish it already and just shoot him, throwing his rifle at the Major's feet.
Then he says he'll make it easier and turn around.
Balls. Of. Steel.
Rufus leaves and the party resumes, but the Major retires to his study with Leech after saying something about this never happening again. Which isn't ominous at all.
The next day we're at the Hannassey ranch where Buck and Rufus have a nice chat, which reveals that Rufus isn't particularly fond of Buck either. With possibly the best burn of all time.
"You wanted me Pa?"
"Before you were born I did."
Don't worry Buck, you're still the snazziest dresser."
They have a little chat which reveals a few more details. Rufus has been telling his boys to push at the Terrills, but even he thinks Buck went to far with McKay. Buck tells Rufus that he's been wooing Julie and that he thinks she's sweet on him.
Buck's even worse at reading signs than I am.
It pleases Rufus however, who concocts a plan to marry Buck to Julie and get the Big Muddy into the family, after which he'd refuse access to the Major and his cows.
In other words, no matter who gets the Big Muddy, a war will break out and a lot of people will die.
Back with McKay now and he's got another snazzy hat.
I still think Buck's snazzier overall
He's planning to go out into the countryside overnight, but he refuses to explain why. Ramone warns him that he'll get lost, but McKay assures him that he won't since he has a compass.
Remember the scene where he reminded us that he's a naval Captain? This'll be why that scene was there.
As McKay camps out overnight Pat and the others are worried that he'll get lost. None of them trust that he won't so they decide to send out search parties, one of which is to be led by Leech, who of course takes the opportunity to insult McKay again.
Then he gets all rapey.
The next morning McKay reaches his destination, an old house seemingly in the middle of nowhere. After poking around a bit he's surprised when Julie points a gun at him.
Stuck in the floorboards but she still orders him to put up his hands. I like this woman.
After the misunderstanding is cleared up McKay explains how he found the place without getting lost. McKay and Julie then spend the day talking to each other about nothing in particular while we keep cutting back to the search parties, which of course can't find him.
He does mention that he rode Old Thunder, but doesn't say how it went.
Eventually Julie decides to show him the Big Muddy itself, the cause of all the fighting.
It might not look like much, but it's pretty decent as far as MacGuffin locations go.
Julie mentions that she wishes she could be rid of it, but to sell to either the Major or Rufus would be a disaster.
So McKay offers to buy it himself. He's got the money and he'd allow both sides access.
Julie likes the idea and agrees.
As night falls the search party is having a rest when McKay casually strolls in. Leech demands to know where he's been, but McKay just replies that he's been shopping.
As they make it home Leech once again says that McKay was lost, which he of course denies, since he wasn't. Leech gets angry and calls him a liar to his face, directly in front of everyone.
McKay surmises that Leech wants a fight and even works out why, so that Leech can impress Pat the only way he knows how.
So while everyone's watching him be called a liar by a man who he knows is after his woman, what does McKay do?
He turns him down of course.
"Wait, what?" - Everyone
Yup, he just straight up refuses to fight.
Everyone wanders off disappointed and once they get inside Pat has a go at McKay for not sticking up for himself. She accuses him of being a coward.
McKay just replies that he's not a coward, but he doesn't feel any particular need to prove otherwise. He says that he's not responsible for what other people think, only for what he is.
This enrages Pat and he decides to move into town, an idea she doesn't turn down.
With a slight cock of the head this man gets across more emotion than Kristen Stewart can in an entire movie.
It's implied that McKay doesn't get any sleep, since before sunrise the next morning he's already up. Looking at the building Leech sleeps in he makes a decision. He enters and tells Leech that he's willing to fight now. After giving him some time to wake up of course.
McKay picks a location where no-one will discover them and they get started.
This movie did not win any awards for fight choreography
Most of the fight is filmed from far away, relying on the sounds of punches landing to get across just how brutal it is. The two men are shown to be evenly matched, both collapsing to their knees at one point only to get back up again and continue fighting. By the time they finish the sun has come up and both men can't even stand. With no clear winner McKay grabs his hat and leaves, asking Leech what it was they proved by fighting.
"I choose not to fight. If I could not fight, it would not be my choice." - David Carradyne, Kung Fu, The Legend
In the morning Leech and his men are sitting around. One of them says that the Hannasseys are coming and another questions their orders. Turns out the Major has ordered them to prevent the Hannasseys from getting their cows to the Big Muddy. One of his men expresses concern about whether what they're doing is right and for a moment it looks like Leech is about to agree with him.
Thus proving that anyone can have character development if the writing's good enough.
But the Major did practically raise him and  he can't go against his orders, so they do indeed drive the Hannassey cattle away from the Big Muddy.
Buck yells some insults at Leech and tells him to go home and shine the Major's boots.
And now we get some sympathy for Leech as he realises that he's naught more than a lapdog.
Buck reports the events to Rufus, who accuses them of cowardice until they point out how outnumbered they were. While muttering to himself he remembers about Julie and how she's apparently sweet on Buck, so he orders him to go get her, any means necessary.
Speaking of Julie, she's visiting Pat and bumps into Ramone, who tells her that something went down last night and McKay left.
As such, Julie decides to confront Pat about it.
But first they talk about cigarettes.
I'm not sure if this counts as passing the Bechdel test or not. Sure, it's two named female characters talking about something other than a male character, but since Julie wants to talk about a male character and Pat's only smoking because of a male character, I'm disinclined to count it.
Then again, this was 1958, I'm not sure if any movie came this close to it.
They do of course talk about McKay and how he never stands up for himself. Pat mentions how he refused to ride Old Thunder, but Julie remembers that he said he did.
So they go to Ramone to sort it out.
Of course, Ramone was sworn to secrecy so he doesn't tell them. But Julie asks why McKay swore him to secrecy and Ramone falls for the trick.
Ramone may be a loyal friend, but he's also a blooming idiot.
Once the secret's out Ramone happily reveals that not only did McKay ride Old Thunder, but it was Old Thunder who gave up first.
After Ramone leaves Pat asks a very important question.
"If he loved me why did he let me think he was a coward?"
"If you loved him why would you even think it?"
Yeah, I really like Julie. This is the kind of role model girls should have.
Pat accuses Julie of being in love with McKay, but rather than rise to it Julie reveals that while she was blaming him for everything he was buying Big Muddy as a wedding present.
Pat is not such a good role model
When Julie gets home she finds McKay knocking at her door with the intention of halting his purchase of the Big Muddy, pointing out that it was meant to be a wedding present for a wedding that's not going to happen. Julie tries to talk him into giving Pat another chance but he points out that it's not just a misunderstanding, they're truly finished.
So Julie asks if he's going to be returning the Big Muddy but he's changed his mind, instead intedning to keep it and become a rancher, asking for her advice on what he would need and stating that he'll go get the deed recorded.
It's a very tender moment
Just as he leaves though, Buck and his brothers crest the hill in the background.
Later McKay is in the inn signing the deed when Pat shows up to return the dueling pistols. Of course it's a false pretense, she's there to win him back. He turns her down, pointing out that it won't work. She explains that she was foolish to doubt him, but now that he's got the Big Muddy they cane live happily, driving off the Hannasseys. If the coffin of their relationship needed another nail in it, this was it. McKay points out that he will grant access to all who need it, even the Hannasseys and Pat flies off the handle at him, once again accusing him of cowardice and proving that she hasn't really learned anything.
This man just became my idol.
Not many men would be able to turn down the woman they love. Captain James McKay is a shining example of what it means to be a gentleman. No matter how much it hurts, one should always do the right thing.
I salute you.
Meanwhile, Buck escorts Julie to see Rufus, who explains his plan to marry them together. Julie of course refuses, pointing out that she can barely stand to be around Buck. After a little berating Rufus pulls up a contract for Julie to sign which would grant him the Big Muddy. To his surprise Julie signs it and requests to be escorted home, but Rufus is smarter than he looks.
No offense to Mr. Ives of course.
He points out that she's been steadfastly refusing for 6 years and now all of a sudden she signs just like that? She points out that the contract is worthless since she no longer owns the Big Muddy, McKay does.
Of course, they don't know that the wedding's off so they still think of McKay as the Major's son-in-law. Julie tries to point out that the wedding's off and McKay will allow both sides access but Rufus is suspicious. He knows that the Major will be coming for them tomorrow and he says that what happens will be on her head, not his.
As Julie enters her room for the night Buck busts in and gets even more rapey than Leech did.
Remember that sympathy we had for him earlier? Gone now.
Luckily Rufus bursts in and drags Buck off of her, promising him that one day he'll have to kill him.
In the morning a messenger arrives at the Major's ranch and informs him of Julie's kidnapping. With a grim face he rides out while Ramone watches on, who then goes and informs McKay about what happened.
And now the scene shifts to Blanco Canyon for the final act as the Hannasseys spot the Major and his men arriving.
The Major and his men camp outside the canyon as Leech checks it out stealthily. He reports that it's an ambush.
But the Major doesn't care. He says that they'll go in anyway.
Once again, Leech does not look impressed.
Luckily, before they can embark on their suicide charge McKay arrives with Ramone.
He explains that he thinks he can get Julie out without any bloodshed but the Major pulls a gun on him, telling him that he's not going in. Unperturbed, McKay says that he will go in and if the Major wants to stop him he'll have to shoot him. But if he does then it will be obvious to all of his men that he's not there for Julie, but he's only using the men to fight his own private war.
Balls. Of. Adamantium.
Even after the Major cocks his gun McKay just walks his horse into the canyon. Leech talks the Major down, pointing out that he probably won't get far enough to even open his mouth. Plus, if the Hannasseys do kill him it'll just be more justification.
As he and Ramone enter Blanco Canyon the Hannasseys spot him and hold their fire, confused as to why he's even there. Buck uses bird calls to let everyone know not to shoot him and rides to blackmail Julie into pretending to be there of her own free will.
Rufus spots McKay and rides down to greet him outside his house, where Julie and Buck are waiting.
And everyone's confused.
McKay explains that he owns the Big Muddy and he gives Rufus his word that he can have free access. Buck searches McKay's horse and finds the dueling pistols, giving them to Rufus before checking McKay's coat and finding the deed.
McKay attempts to talk Rufus out of bloodshed but Rufus says that he'll have no peace until the Major lies dead in Blanco Canyon.
This does not impress McKay.
This man does not look impressed.
He calls out Rufus for being just as bitter and bloodthirsty as the Major. AS Rufus clutches his gun JUlie pipes up, telling McKay that he's mistaken about her having been kidnapped.
She claims to have come of her own free will, but when McKay points out how many people will die if she doesn't leave she claims that there's nothing she can do about that and tries to get him to leave.
Being McKay of course he sees right through it and dismounts instead.
McKay refuses to leave without Julie, who continues to lie through her teeth as Buck hovers menacingly. Rufus puts two and two together and works out that they're in love with each other, each willing to risk their own lives to protect the other.
As Julie screams at McKay to leave she grabs Buck, who smacks her.
This gets McKay a tad angry.
McKay and Buck brawl for a while until Buck draws a gun, but Rufus fires a warning shot to stop him in his tracks, saying that nobody will be shooting an unarmed man in front of him. Buck calls for McKay to be given a gun and McKay agrees, for once willing to stand and fight. Rufus points out that if they fight on Buck's terms then McKay would stand no chance. Instead he points out that McKay brought dueling pistols, good ones. And as such they shall fight like civilised men, one bullet each, twenty paces apart.
Outside the canyon the Major's getting restless and instructs his men to enter, but Leech refuses.
Looks like his character development is complete
Leech says that he's done a lot for the Major but he won't sacrifice his men for him, not if there's a chance that McKay got through. The Major accuses him of being yellow and to his eternal credit Leech doesn't refute it, instead saying that the Major can call him whatever he likes but he won't budge.
So instead the Major calls for the rest of his men to follow, but none do. Looking around, the Major turns and enters alone.
It's a powerful moment
Despite his words, Leech is only human and he can't stand to watch his mentor ride to his probable death alone and he mounts up and follows, steadily followed by his men.
I'm not sure what to make of this scene. If the Major had been able to let go of his anger then Leech wouldn't have had to make that decision. While I don't think anyone can blame him for going in after him, it proves to be ultimately pointless and costs the lives of several men.
I guess the point of the scene is that anyone can try to be a gentleman, but it's a rare man who can stand by those ideals even at the cost of his friendships.
Look at that face. He knows he's made the wrong decision, but he's doing it anyway so that his mentor won't die alone.
Back at the ranch, Rufus is cleaning and preparing the pistols whilst Buck an McKay wait. The tension in the air is palpable, even through the screen.
Rufus goes through the rules once more, explaining that if anyone tries to shoot before the signal it'll be his job to shoot him down like a dog.
As Rufus counts the two men pace away from each other. When he says ready they cock their guns and turn. When he says aim they point their guns at each other. But before he can say fire...
You have no idea how happy I was to get this screenshot.
What a surprise, Buck Hannassey, attempted rapist and attacker of women, jumps the gun and fires.
Fortunately, he's not a very good shot, grazing McKay along his head. Rufus goes to shoot him but McKay yells that he's okay. Rufus states that it's McKay's turn to fire and he's got all the time he needs to aim.
As he steadies his hand Buck looks at Rufus, scared for the first time. Not able to stand and watch his death come at him he collapses to the ground, sobbing.
McKay aims carefully.
Was anyone really surprised by this?
McKay is of course unable to shoot a man who's sobbing for his life. With a glance at Rufus he turns to leave. Rufus, for his part, spits on Buck, who really, really deserves it.
As McKay and Julie embrace Buck gets angry and steals a gun from one of his brothers.
As he aims at McKay Rufus shoots him in the chest.
Then what follows is probably one of the saddest scenes in the film.
Burl Ives, earning his Oscar the proper way.
Even though Buck was a horrible human being, he was still Rufus' son.
The movie's not over yet though, just as everyone's mourning Buck's death (If Leech could be redeemed, maybe Buck could have been too?) the Major enters the canyon proper and falls right into the Hannassey trap.
Simple, yet effective.
The Major gets trapped on his own and Leech makes his way to him, getting shot in the side for his troubles. Holding his wound he takes cover with the Major as people on both sides start dying.
McKay, Julie and Ramone are making their way towards the canyon when Rufus cacthes up to them, having been informed that the fight has started. Rufus states that this fight truly is between the Major and him and they race to halt the fighting.
When they get there Rufus yells for all Hannasseys to stop firing but to hold cover.  Once the firing has stopped he calls out to the Major, requesting that they settle this once and for all, with no-one else getting hurt.
The Major agrees and the two face off against each other.
Technically, it's a draw
It's unclear what exactly happened. We get to see that Rufus shot the Major, but the camera cuts away to show McKay when the second shot is fired. Whether the major lived long enough to avenge himself, or whether Rufus committed suicide, is left up to the viewer.
I don't know which I prefer.
Leech and McKay meet each other at the corpses.
Dibs on his shoes.
Without a word Leech collects the body. The Hannasseys wave them on, signalling that they won't be fired upon whilst they leave.
With one final shot of Julie and McKay leaving the canyon, the movie draws to a close.
Oh, and Ramone, who didn't really do much in the final act.
This movie was excellent, it's easy to see why it's considered one of the greats of its' genre. Released during a time when most Western heroes solved all of their problems by shooting them, here's a hero who refuses to fight unless it's in defense of others. When cowboy cops were all the rage, this man was a gentleman.
The pacing was excellent, if slow by today's standards. The director was unafraid to let the actors act, which is a skill which has been all but lost in modern cinema. The musical score was nominated for an Oscar for good reason. And the moral of the story is one that has stood the test of time. Non-violence should always be your first choice.
It also shows that while it's best to lead by example, not everyone can be redeemed so easily, as was the case with Buck and the Major. But those who can be redeemed, such as Leech and Rufus, are worth the effort.

Next week it's time for something less heavy, but with just as good a moral.
And it's about Christmas of all things.

No comments:

Post a Comment