Well after the disappointing Blood Work I put into the VHS player Paint Your Wagon which is another Eastwood outing, albeit as an actor only. Actor only? In this he actually sings! I kid you not.The man with no name, aka Dirty Harry, and the meanest man ever born William Munny singing! Unbelievable but true!
I have never seen Wagon before and snapped it up at the video store the other day. I didn't realise it was a musical until I looked it up on Wikipedia. I seriously cannot abide musicals, they turn me off like a kick to the nether regions so I was somewhat skeptical about watching it. Well my skeptisim didn't last long. Not only is there singing but this is a very, very funny movie. I couldn't believe how funny it was and roared out loud at some of the lines.
You have to see this one! I wish I had a pen and paper so I could have written some of the lines down. One day I'll rent it again just to hear them repeated. Its all there, women, booze, cigars, gold, women, booze, whores, oh and women! I've never been overly fond of Lee Marvin as an actor but after Wagon my opinion has changed. He is just outstanding here. He sings, he acts, gets drunk, marries, shares his wife, corrupts Christians, and is just general mayhem! He really is very good. I believe that during shooting he was actually drunk most of the time so it may explain his performance!
The VHS I had was grainy and past its best but to me Wagon is a quietly overlooked gem of American cinema. It was made in 1969 and was somewhat panned at the time, and probably explains its slide into realative obscurity. It is a shame as I believe this is a better film than its reputation suggests. The humour is as good as you'll ever get and you WILL laugh hard at it. The singing is excellent. Eastwood has got a very good voice. It is like all musicals, and I destest musicals! But this one I really enjoyed. I enjoyed it so much that I would definitely now rate this as one of my many favorite films.
When released one of the critisims was its length. It is well over two hours long. When watching it I kept looking at he clock as I couldn't believe that it kept on going. But for me I never felt bored or went 'when is this going to finish?' because the pacing is perfect. It is also based on a stage musical and there are changes that many purists didn't like.
At first I thought this was a western but it is actually based during the Californian gold rush. There are a few gunshots but it isn't a violent film. It really is incredibly laid back and alot of fun, and I mean ALOT! Booze, booze, women, booze, but all in good humour. There are some moral and social under tones of Christianity, monogamy, prostitution, greed etc, but they fit in really well and don't take over the films fun tone.
For me Marvin and Eastwood give incredibly eye opening performances. Eastwood plays a very reserved and laid back guy and he never pulls out his 'mean' demeanor which is so rare for him. To see him sing is a real eye opener and you can't help but envy his extensive talent. Marvin is brilliant, he sings to and isn't too bad at pulling off 'wandrin' star'. Jean Seberg is an actress I know little about but she really is one of the most beautiful women to have ever graced the screen. I believe she died relatively young in her native France aged in her mid 40's.
One of the things I have learnt from reading up on Wagon is that Marvin was paid more than Eastwood to star, $1 million versus $750.000. It is easy to forget that Eastwood wasn't always the big name he was to become. But more importantly for posterity is the length it took to make Wagon. Eastwood became frustrated at the time it took to film so later went out and formed his own production company that has develpoed a deserved reputation for very quick production times. Of course we know that company as Malpaso.
For me it is somewhat sad that film hasn't garnered a better reputation and following. It is a much better film that it is credited of being. I hope that sometime soon there will a revisionest look at it and it gets the credit it truley deserves. To me it is a real gem and I highly recommend that you give it a look. I'm sure you will end up feeling the way I do about it. I like it so much that I'll be giving it another viewing very soon and marvel in a very good but sadly over looked bit of cinema magic. Rent it, watch it, love it, and laugh hard as you won't regret it!