The Missouri Breaks:
The Hazards of Gardening in Montana
During the entire production Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando were only on the set on the same day just one time, despite their multiple scenes together.
MFW: This would account for the fact that it’s almost impossible to find shots of them within the same frame.
Marlon Brando’s performance was mostly improvised. Arthur Penn eventually gave up on him and decided to just let him act whatever way he wanted.
MFW: Brando unprofessional behavior became the stuff of movie legend. But he didn’t seem to care. How profoundly this affected his career is hard to say.
Jack Nicholson didn’t like the fact that Marlon Brando used cue cards while filming. In their scenes together, Nicholson broke his concentration every time Brando shifted his gaze to the cue card behind the cameraman.
”I’d like almost anythin better n bein burnt up.”
Marlon Brando agreed to accept $1 million for five weeks work plus 11.3% of gross receipts in excess of $10 million.
Jack Nicholson agreed $1.25 million for ten weeks work, plus 10% of the gross receipts in excess of $12.5 million.
The Missouri Breaks / Directed By Arthur Penn
“Regulator? Ain’t that like a dry gulcher?”
“Well, that’s not the softest term you could use, I’d say.”
“Why don’t we just take a walk and we’ll just talk about the Wild West and how to get the hell out of it!”
“Damn, I don’t know why they had to put Canada all the way up here.”
“The closer you get to Canada, the more things’ll eat your horse.”
The Missouri Breaks (1976)
Not one My Favorite Westerns. But … it has Brando and Nicholson / Star Power.
Frankly, it seems there are damn few movies of any type that are worth watching if they don’t have Stars in them. I hate to say that because you’d like to think otherwise. There are plenty of exceptions I’m sure, but in general – as far as Hollywood is concerned, this is pretty well a Rule. Maybe Rule #1. Certainly Director Sydney Pollock believed that. Which is why he made 7 movies starring Robert Redford. He knew that even if the movie was lousy or critically trashed that Redford would still put it over the top. And he did.
Don’t get me wrong – plenty of people like The Missouri Breaks and some consider it a great movie – even a great Western. It’s certainly worth at least one look just to see what Brando and Nicholson are up to. And they’re up to quite a bit.
- Rotton Tomatoes:
Critics Score: 83% – Viewers Score: 58%
- DVD Savant:
Movie: Very Good: “Even with its stellar teaming of Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson, The Missouri Breaks was a big-bust movie in 1976 … Almost 30 years later, The Missouri Breaks plays a lot better … That ending is still a head-scratcher but most of the rest of the movie is a Western lover’s delight, with excellent and often hilarious dialogue between sad sack horse thief Nicholson and his pack of misfit rustlers. If anyone lets the film down, it’s Brando … “
- Internet Movie Database (IMDB):
Viewers Rating: 6.5
- Turner Classic Movies (TCM):
User Reviews: 4 out of 5
“The Missouri Breaks (1976) is not your usual Western. In fact, it’s not your usual anything. The words most commonly used in reviews at the time of its release were “bizarre” and “odd” and it must have equally confused audiences expecting something quite different from the inspired teaming of Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. But seen today, the film’s peculiar mixture of Western cliches, black comedy, quirky romance and revenge drama makes for a decidedly offbeat entertainment.”