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ONE-EYED JACKS

Director: MARLON BRANDO

U.S.A. • 1961 • COLOUR • 141 MIN


IT’S FASCINATING TO SEE BRANDO DIRECTING THIS REVENGE WESTERN EXACTLY AS HE ACTS, SO THAT THE WHOLE MOVIE SMOULDERS IN A MANNER THAT IS MEAN, MOODY AND MAGNIFICENT.
The source novel by Charles Neider retold the story of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Double-crossed by his former partner Dad (Karl Malden), Brando’s Kid erupts from the past to haunt the older man, now a sheriff and proud father. The Freudian intentions lurking in the character conflicts and the card-symbolism, the homosexual and Oedipal intimations, are underpinned by the extraordinary settings. Perhaps uniquely in a Western, the key scenes are played out against the rocky Monterey sea coast, with waves crashing portentously in the background, so that nature echoes the Romantic agony of a hero much given to brooding in corners or gazing out into space shrouded in his Byronic cape. The result is a Western of remarkable though sometimes muddled power.

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