Saturday, February 05, 2005

Recent Westerns

As promised, or threatened, reviews of Django The Bastard (aka The Strangers Gundown) and No Name On The Bullet...

Ok, not a lot to say about Django The Bastard. It's a nice looking film. That is obvious even through the muddy print on the DVD. It's kind of boring, and has, what I assume is supposed to be a surprise ending. This story element is handled much better in the later High Plains Drifter. Anthony Steffan has a nice presence. It's a decent work, but I wouldn't recommend going out of one's way to see it.

No Name On The Bullet, on the other hand, is remarkable. Written by Gene Coon - who is, in geek speak, to Star Trek what Bill Finger is to Batman - directed by Jack Arnold and starring Audie Murphy, No Name On The Bullet is a haunting portrait of paranoia and the thin veneer on decency that holds up our civilized world.

Murphy plays an assassin, a rare take on a heavy role from America's most decorated soldier in the second world war, who comes into a small town with a reputation. Everyone speculates on who he has come for, leading to cracks forming in the community, once tense relationships explode in rage and violence. All the while, Murphy bides his time and watches with the eye of a philosopher. This is a movie that should have a much bigger reputation than it does.

Murphy is tremendously charismatic and brings tremendous sympathy to the role, which could have came across as little more than a plot device of a character. The other actors also bring sympathy and intrigue. Its a tight and tense little western thriller and a wonderful character drama.

Definitely, give it a try.

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