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The Missouri Breaks (1976)

Director:
Arthur Penn
COUNTRY
USA
GENRE
Western
NORWEGIAN TITLE
Missouri Breaks
RUNNING TIME
126 minutes
Producers:
Elliott Kastner
Robert M. Sherman
Screenwriters:
Thomas McGuane


Cast includes:

CHARACTER ACTOR/ACTRESS RATING
Robert E. Lee Clayton Marlon Brando
Tom Logan Jack Nicholson
Little Tod Randy Quaid
Jane Braxton Kathleen Lloyd
Cary Frederic Forrest
Cal Harry Dean Stanton
David Braxton John McLiam
Cy John Ryan

 

Review

This underrated gem was outrageously slaughtered by contemporary critics who clearly didn't understand Arthur Penn's revisionist and nuanced look at the American west, or Marlon Brando's brilliant, eccentric performance as the gun-man and regulator Lee Clayton. Seen today, however, The Missouri Breaks has aged wonderfully and appears far more modern and rich than most of its more genre-loyal contemporaries. The film is an erratic western drama laden with humour, tension and contradictions, and Penn shifts elegantly from one mood to another. He was also one of the rare directors who didn't get in Brando's way (or on his nerves) and allowed him to express himself and improvise, and the result is not only one of Brando's most enjoyable performances, but also one of the most progressive and inventive ones from this period. Only in recent years has it gained the praise that it deserves. There's also great work from Jack Nicholson, in another powerful (if somewhat overshadowed) performance, Kathleen Lloyd as his libidinous love interest, and Harry Dean Stanton as his steadfast right-hand. Another of the film's strong points is John Williams' musical score, which is probably the best of his non-classical ones.

Copyright 5.5.2015 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang

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