Friday, June 3, 2016

The Train Robbers

Year 8, Day 155 - 6/3/16 - Movie #2,354

BEFORE: I had the kind of day today where I was just putting out one fire after another - not literally, I mean the virtual kind.  From the first phone call I knew I was in for "that" kind of day, and when everyone else in the office took off for the weekend at either 12 or 3 pm, and then I was alone, but had to step out to make a film festival's postmark deadline, everything seemed to hit at once.  A copyright claim got filed against my boss's film on YouTube, our new web-site launched, but there was a problem with it, the post office suddenly stopped taking credit cards and demanded cash, which I didn't have, and then the FedEx office somehow ran out of forms.  Plus a phone call suddenly led to 6 or 7 e-mails that had to be sent before the weekend, and this was told to me at 4:30 pm on a Friday.  

That's when I get that sinking, drowning feeling - but I know that when you're drowning, flailing around in desperation will only make things worse - it's better to relax and try to float.  So I got a couple slices of pizza and a can of Mountain Dew, hunkered down back at the office and proceeded to dig myself out of the proverbial hole, one e-mail at a time.  But I was also supposed to hurry home to feed the cats their lunch, and they didn't get it until 7 pm.  Sorry, cats.  

"Le Mans" was another dead-end - I wish I had another Steve McQueen film to link to, but I don't.  They're running "The Sand Pebbles" on cable, but it's technically not a war film, I think, since it's not set during a specific war.  Plus it doesn't seem to help much with linking either, so I think I've got to back up to "The Cincinnati Kid" and follow another link, to Ann-Margret.  

Westerns are usually very manly, after tonight I've got a couple more scheduled in 2 weeks or so, as part of the Burt Reynolds chain, but this one has John Wayne, another manly icon of manliness.  I'm not a big John Wayne fan, so maybe this will be his only appearance during the course of the project.  I know, he made a lot of films, but I'm just not that interested in him. 

THE PLOT:  A gunhand named Lane is hired by a widow, Mrs. Lowe, to find gold stolen by her husband so that she may return it and start fresh.

AFTER: This is probably why I don't like John Wayne films, they're so morally simple, not complex like, say, "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" or "The Wild Bunch".  I mean, Westerns are generally pretty simple to begin with, and then all you really need to know is that John Wayne's character is an expert on just about everything, and he's always right.  I don't like it, it's too pat - nobody is right 100% of the time, it's simply not possible. 

Then there's this ridiculous dialogue, where every question or point gets asked or mentioned three times, seemingly just as filler.  I think Aaron Sorkin must have watched a lot of John Wayne westerns when he was growing up.  Sample dialogue: "I don't trust you."  "Whaddaya mean, you don't trust me?" "You heard me, I said I don't trust you.  You've got shifty eyes."  "Whaddaya mean, I've got shifty eyes?"  "You heard me..." and so on.  

Then every character has to have these quite, reflective moments, where they sit around the campfire, or hunker down in a position while waiting for the enemies to attack, and they have some stupid insight into what life is all about, or what it means to sleep outdoors under the stars and feel free.  Gag, what a bunch of hooey.  

The film is essentially about the widow of a train robber, who knows where the gold is hidden, but she wants to ride with a gang to go and get it, so she can turn it in for the reward.  Right, go get a half-million dollars in stolen treasure, and turn it in for a $50,000 reward.  Because THAT makes sense.  Is that some kind of Republican trickle-down supply-side economics, or what?  But no, it's the code of the West, or something, these men are going to help her do the "right" thing and return the gold.  "Whaddaya mean, we're going to return the gold."  "You heard me, we're going to return the gold..." and so on.  

This group of 5 (6 if you count the widow) is going to out-ride and out-shoot a gang of like 50 men who are also looking for the gold, and probably following them right to it.  But you know Westerns, the 5 can beat the 50 if they're good shots and they're pure of heart.  The "white hats" always win, even if they have to blow up a whole town to do it.  

NITPICK POINT: A half-million dollars worth of gold, in 1860's money?  That would weigh a LOT, like we're talking about a ton of gold, right?  I mean, that's more than would fit in a strongbox, and it's certainly more than 5 men with horses and mules would be able to carry, you've got to figure, right?  Like, what was their plan to carry all that gold out of there?  

Also starring Rod Taylor (last seen in "The Catered Affair"), Ben Johnson (last seen in "The Sugarland Express"), Christopher George (last seen in "Midway"), Bobby Vinton, Jerry Gatlin, Ricardo Montalban (last heard in "The Ant Bully"). 

RATING: 4 out of 10 pack mules

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