Wednesday, 3 April 2013
Old Movie Of The Week: The Missouri Breaks ( 1976 )
Otherwise known as The Jack & Marlon Show. As the poster tagline says above: "One steals. One kills. One dies."
Jack Nicholson stars as Tom Logan, leader of a group of inept rustlers in late 19th century Montana. More proficient at boozing and whoring than rustling, Logan's gang plan to steal horses from across the Canadian border and sneak them back into the US across the Missouri Breaks. Local landowner David Braxton ( John McLiam ) has other ideas and hires a "Regulator" to hunt them down... in the form of eccentric ( ie bat-shit crazy ) gunman Lee Clayton ( Brando ).
Although a failure at the box office on release this film has gained a solid reputation over the years and I'm glad I've finally got round to watching it. There is some beautiful location filming ( only to be expected from Arthur Penn ), loads of salty, earthy dialogue and a great cast of character actors, led by the ever-dependable Harry Dean Stanton, backing up the stars.
Nicholson plays Tom Logan as a laconic, contained character, knowing his life is going nowhere, who tries for one ( doomed ) stab at happiness when he romances Braxton's daughter, Jane, sparkily played by Kathleen Lloyd. Brando, in contrast, is a delight as a vegetable-munching, dress-wearing, cold-eyed killer... seemingly channelling Richard Harris' accent and his very own eccentricities. The two only share about three scenes but when they do the star power fairly fizzes from the screen. Not a classic film by any means, but definitely a quirky, unusual treat for those ( like me ) who aren't usually Western fans.