One-Eyed Jacks / 1961
Brando rides again in restored Classic
One-Eyed Jacks / http://www.nziff.co.nz/2016/auckland/one-eyed-jacks/
Directed by Marlon Brando Retro
A singular Western rightfully restored for the big screen, Marlon Brando’s sole directorial effort and legendary film maudit arrives fresh from its enthusiastic reappraisal at Cannes.
Famously over-budget and severely trimmed by the studio, Marlon Brando’s sole foray into direction was a box office flop that remains a psychologically fascinating, visually stunning and too-seldom-seen entry into the Western genre. This stunning restoration by Universal Pictures and The Film Foundation was supervised by Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. It comes to festival screens direct from its unveiling at Cannes.
“One-Eyed Jacks was actually the last time Brando acted out of true commitment, an uncynical passion for the material, and he gives one of his best performances as the outlaw betrayed by a friend (Karl Malden), seeking vengeance and finding love with the villain’s stepdaughter. His direction is perceptive and effective – all the actors are uniformly excellent – evoking especially fine work from the newcomers, notably Pina Pellicer as the young woman who falls for him. Katy Jurado is fine as her mother; Malden, always good, is superbly ambiguous here, and Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens are wonderfully authentic.” — Peter Bogdanovich, Indiewire
“Fascinating to see Brando directing this revenge Western exactly… as he acts, so that the whole movie smoulders in a manner that is mean, moody and magnificent… The Freudian intentions lurking in the character conflicts and the card symbolism, the homosexual and Oedipal intimations, are underpinned by the extraordinary settings… The result, laced with some fine traditional sequences and stretches of masochistic violence, is a Western of remarkable though sometimes muddled power.” — Tom Milne, Time Out
“You may be a one-eyed jack around here,
but I’ve seen the other side of your face.”
Left holding the bag by fellow bank robber Karl Malden, Marlon Brando’s Rio emerges from five years of rat-counting in the Sonoma pen, only to find his old buddy now a respected lawman, complete with wife Katy Jurado (High Noon) and step-daughter Pina Pellicer (the Mexican actress in a heartbreaking performance as Rio’s love interest, underlined by her suicide within four years). Brando’s only directorial effort was the Heaven’s Gate of its day, complete with firing of initial director Stanley Kubrick and co-scenarist Sam Peckinpah, millions of dollars in cost overruns, and a first cut running to five hours. Away from the hoopla, it can now be seen as a fresh approach to genre clichés; with numerous on-set improvisations; one of the great screen insults (“You scumsucking pig!”); and rare for a Western: seaside scenes, shot near Monterey. 4K DCP restoration. “What is extraordinary about it is that it proceeds in two contrasting styles. One is hard and realistic; the other is romantic and lush… as if it had been directed jointly by John Huston and Raoul Walsh.” – Bosley Crowther, The New York Times. “The most memorable scenes have a fierce masochistic intensity, as if Brando were taking the opportunity to punish himself for some unknown crime. The bizarre action is set off by the classic Hollywood iconography of the western landscape (photographed by Charles Lang).” – Dave Kehr. “The Freudian intentions lurking in the character conflicts and the card symbolism, the homosexual and Oedipal intimations, are underpinned by the extraordinary settings… with waves crashing portentously in the background, so that nature echoes the Romantic agony of a hero much given to brooding in corners or gazing out into space shrouded in his Byronic cape. The result is a Western of remarkable though sometimes muddled power.” – Tom Milne, Time Out (London).