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Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid Review


Terrible
Sam Peckinpah's virtually unseen Western turns out to be unseen for a reason. Interminably boring and filled with red paint-for-blood splattering, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid ought to turn you off, but if that doesn't do the job, I've got one phrase that will: "Also starring Bob Dylan." Nuff said, I hope.

McLintock! Review


Weak
Mind the exclamation point in the title. There's plenty of yelling in McLintock! a much-loved yet still hokey and somewhat ill-advised western "comedy" that doesn't play very well for laughs any more. The plot basically concerns a wealthy cattleman (Wayne) who squabbles with everyone in the town he basically runs from top to bottom -- but he fights the most with his wife (Maureen O'Hara) and daughter (Stefanie Powers). Eventually this culminates in characters falling into muddy water and, in the film's most absurd moment, Wayne encouraging his daughter's boyfriend to give her a good spanking -- and even handing him some sort of implement to help him out. Made in 1963, this might have been the reason women's lib got its big start.

The Alamo (1960) Review


Grim
Director/star John Wayne spends more time at the Alamo than I did as a junior high kid in Houston. This three-plus-hour epic feels longer than the battle itself, the most infamous part of the Texas Revolution, in which Texan troops were massacred by a much larger Mexican force. Wayne (here playing a roadkill-hatted Davy Crockett) is wildly overwrought (Jim Bowie: "My wife. She's... dead!" / Crocket: "I lived through it Jim. It's hard."), clumsy, and embarassingly directed -- and it doesn't get to the actual battle until the last 45 minutes of the film. Still, it's intriguing to see him on the losing side of a gunfight for once.

Giant Review


Good
A more apt title you won't find for a movie, as Giant's sprawling epic covers some 30 years in the life of a Texas cattle baron (Hudson), his wife (Taylor), and the upstart kid who becomes rich by discovering oil on his small plot of land (Dean). Compelling in a Gone With the Wind style, yet far too long at almost 4 hours, Giant could have stood for some quite obvious cutting. How many Christmas carols, square dances, and Texas cowboy shanties can one man take?

Regardless, James Dean (in one of only three roles on film) makes quite an impression, and Taylor reminds us why we ever liked her to begin with. The cinematography is equally Giant as well -- showing off the dusty nothing of central Texas, long low plains with brush and low hills in the distant background. George Stevens (Shane) has always had a knack for landscapes, and he's at the top of his game here. On the new DVD (two restored discs, one of which is double-sided), Stevens' son asks us to reconsider the film and enjoy it one again, 45 years after the making. In a commentary track with critic Stephen Farmber and writer Ivan Moffat, he reflects on his departed father and the trio reflect on Giant's legacy. That second disc has all the usual retrospectives and testimonials we've come to expect.

Continue reading: Giant Review

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