Any good Christian or Jeopardy! fan knows that Barabbas was the murderer that the Romans chose to free rather than Jesus when Pontius Pilate asked them to pick someone to receive a pardon. The film (based on the novel of the same name) imagines -- with minimal attention to anything that is historically known -- what might have happened to Barabbas after he was freed, tracking him back into a life of crime, a decades-long sentence of hard labor, and a stint in the gladiator pit, all before he's eventually redeemed through the message of the man who hung on the cross instead of him. Barabbas, in keeping with the Biblical epics of its era, is overwrought and overlong, but Anthony Quinn is memorable in the leading role, even when the script is derivative of everything from Spartacus to Ben-Hur, films which were still fresh in the public's mind. Barabbas has aged poorly in comparison (though Spartacus isn't the masterpiece many wish it to be, either).
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.
Sure, it's a classic, but High Noon has never been a favorite Western of mine. Its pace is too slow -- though some scenes of Gary Cooper's marshal in desperate search of a posse before the black hats arrive in town can be tense. The scene where Cooper waits for the conveniently-timed train to arrive at the station is also quite stylish. Alas, Grace Kelly or no, High Noon just doesn't have the depth of character for my tastes. No flawed hero, no injustice to be avenged. Just a good guy, a bad guy, and a clean-cut ending that leaves you shrugging the whole thing off.
Marlon Brando proved he wasn't cut out for westerns with this, one of his few stabs at the genre.One-Eyed Jacks is a long, meandering, and poorly constructed film that has faded even further since its release -- none of which is terribly surprising, as this was Brando's sole attempt at directing a film. The plot concerns a criminal (Brando) who falls in love with a Mexican girl, among other misadventures. Unfortunarely, the slick-haired Brando doesn't come close to looking the part, and the movie's randomness quickly becomes a major turnoff. Note that many current-era DVDs are extremely badly mastered, with atrocious video and audio that comes primarily out of the rear speakers.