Okay, I had to pick this Joel McCrea movie out of all the netflix movies to watch first?? Because, if there was ever a Joel McCrea movie written just for me that will make me love him for life, this is it.
Here's another film that fits in my newly-understood love of aging, worn heroes with a code faced with a changing world. Only, as opposed to The Wild Bunch, this Peckinpah movie is kinder and gentler and far less bloody and dissolute (though it has its moments). And it deals with my all-time favorite themes of friendship, betrayal, redemption, and honor.
Oh sigh. Where to even begin? At the beginning... I love George Bassman's main title theme. It's beautiful, melancholy, and coincidentally completely encapsulated my mood yesterday. That theme seemed written just for me yesterday. The rest of the score... meh. Obtrusive and annoying, but that main theme is wonderful and suits the movie to a T.
Randolph Scott's back, and I have to admit, from not knowing him as anything other than a name, I've watched a dozen or so of his films over the past year and really come to like him. He and McCrea work wonderfully together here. Both bring such class and dignity, even when one's scheming and fast-talking. It's hard to believe they never actually made any other films together.
What I didn't like... the female character played by Mariette Hartley. Now, I really do like the actress a lot, it's just that her character drives me a bit crazy and her side story interferes with screen time that I'd rather be spending with Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott. Okay, okay, that's also entirely unfair, as hers is not just a random subplot, it ties in with everything and sparks some moral dilemmas, changes of heart, and the climax, but I just personally could have done without it.
And Joel McCrea? Mmmmmm. Dig him dig him dig him. He aged well. His character hides his misgivings and fears behind a solid wall of confidence, and he can back it up, easily whupping a young whippersnapper, as well as standing his ground against superior numbers. McCrea does so many wonderful little things in this movie that help define his character. The defiant/embarrassed look he shoots Randolph Scott when he picks up his dime, the uncomfortable shoulder roll when his prospective employer eyes his frayed cuffs, how far he has to move the paper away to be able to see where to sign. He even made me cry at one point. Yep, I's in luv!
I also get to watch my beloved Sierra Mountains. Those places are so familiar to me, I can smell the air, feel the streams. There's still nowhere on earth I'd rather be then in those mountains. This was Eastern Sierra and was one of the movies on my Inyo County viewing list. And when the young guy tosses his food wrapper into the bushes, Joel McCrea snaps at him, "Pick that up. These mountains don't need your trash." Right on! Couldn't have put it better myself.