Tuesday, 11 February 2020

One eye on Brando

I’m currently reading The Contender, William Mann’s 2019 biography of Marlon Brando, and as ever with film biographies, it gives me a good excuse to go back and revisit the films. This weekend it was the turn of On the Waterfront and One-Eyed Jacks. Waterfront I’ve seen a number times over the years (I was lucky to see it in a theater in 2017), but One-Eyed Jacks I hadn’t seen since the VHS days. Actually, I had seen portions of the film in recent years, on one of those backwater TV channels that shows public domain titles in unwatchable sub-youtube broadcasts, and somehow One-Eyed Jacks was one of the titles that screened 3 or 4 times a week. I’m astonished at how a Paramount film of this prestige could fall into public domain, but all that was swept aside courtesy of the Arrow Blu-Ray which features the 2016 restoration. One could hardly measure the work done on the film against the scrappy thing that I had last seen on Showcase TV, but in any case the film looks absolutely magnificent. What always excites me about the One-Eyes Jacks is the mighty Pacific ocean which features heavily in the film - certainly not a typical piece of Western iconography, but this idiosyncrasy (if you could call it that) gives the film a grandeur that must have looked quite majestic in theatres fitted out for big Vista Vision productions.

Watching the scenes with Timothy Carey I’m reminded of Stanley Kubrick’s brief involvement with the film, as was Sam Peckinpah, and I found some nice connections to Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, which reunites actors Slim Pickens and Katy Jurado. There were moments too when I thought of Monte Hellman’s great sixties Westerns and I’d like to imagine he was an early advocate of the film. I’m looking thru Brando’s filmography right now and I might have already hit the highlights in terms of the book. I probably won’t get time to catch The Godfather, Last Tango in Paris or Apocalypse Now in the next week or so, but I shall try to steal time for two noteworthy late-60’s pictures: the never-seen-before 1966 film The Chase (for that once-in-a-lifetime cast at least) and the 1969 oddity The Night of the Following Day, which I have great affection for. Sadly, I don’t have a copies of Burn! or The Missouri Breaks, two films I would have liked to sit down with, not to mention the 1967 Charles Chaplin-directed A Countess from Hong Kong, conspicuous by its absence in my 2003 Chaplin boxset…

No comments:

Post a comment