Monday, March 17, 2008

The Missouri Breaks (1976)

Jack Nicholson stars as Tom Logan, a horse thief in the Wild West. He and his gang have recently robbed a train (for the first, and last time) and have some money lying around. They buy a ranch and set up shop. The problem is however that one of Mr. Logan's neighbors, a one Mr. David Braxton (John McLiam), is very concerned with horse thieves in the area and has hired a famous "regulator" named Robert E. Lee Clayton (Marlon Brando) to come in and hunt down and assassinate these thieves. A regulator is a sort of man-hunter. Someone who is hired to come in, locate someone, and kill them. At first Braxton has no reason to suspect Logan, but after Logan starts seeing his daughter Jane (Kathleen Lloyd) he begins to despise Logan and starts to notice things, things that Clayton himself has also noticed about Logan’s character and business. Clayton gets all the evidence he needs after a botched trip to Canada in the attempt to steal 60 of the Mounties’s horses. After the Mounties catch up to Logan's gang, they split up and Little Tod (Randy Quaid) runs into Mr. Lee Clayton. Clayton assumes a false identity in order to extract information from Tod, but Tod won't talk so Clayton drowns him. This, of course, means war between Logan and Clayton. Jack Nicholson is outstanding in the film, and that's the only thing that makes the film worthwhile in my opinion. Thomas McGuane's script has its moments of humor, and Arthur Penn is a good director but this certainly isn't his best. Marlon Brando is ridiculous as an Irish cowboy, completely unbelievable. Fact of the matter is, when Jack isn't on screen the movie drags. The Missouri Breaks is only worth watching if you're a big fan of one of the leads, or director Arthur Penn. Overall 2.0/4 Stars Grade = C

1 comment:

Chris said...

With respect, I think you've missed the point of the film - it seems to me to be wholly engaging. Brando's performance is deliberately 'excessive' and non naturalistic. The themes of Law and violence are extremely persuasively handled. A minor masterpiece.