All I knew going into Paint Your Wagon is that it was a not-great musical western where Clint Eastwood sings. Things I did not know: that Lee Marvin has all the best lines ever, that the singing was bad but also endearing, and that it featured a sight gag that still makes me giggle when I think of it, as well as a surprisingly complex threesome, though not at the same time. I enjoyed the hell out of it, in a guilty sort of way.
It’s showing with The Wild Bunch, which is basically the polar opposite Western. It takes place at the end of the Wild West, a pretty violent film about an aging gang taking one more job. Excellent, but I do wish the Spanish had been subtitled.
Finally, this week they also screened The Rain People, a 16mm print sent from Australia, with gorgeous color but somewhat lacking in sound quality. An early Coppola, it’s the film basically responsible for American Zoetrope, which is the company Coppola and Lucas founded to make films outside of the traditional studio system. It’s in the tradition of an American road movie, but with a woman in the lead. Shirley Knight is Natalie who, dissatisfied in her marriage, hits the road & encounters bits of the country in the company of James Caan (as a brain-damaged ex football player) and eventually Robert Duvall. One of my favorite things about it was the incorporation of flashback to show us moments from various character’s memories, suddenly and without fanfare, just as memory actually operates.