Make room for Marlon. This offbeat, indulgent western, the only film directed by La Marlon, is almost as strange as his later THE MISSOURI BREAKS, but it does pack a wallp for patient viewers. Rio (Brando) and Dad (Malden) are bandits who rob a Mexican bank in 1880 but end up having to
share a horse during their getaway. Realizing that they cannot outdistance the posse on one horse, Rio sends Dad off to find a second mount while he holds off the posse. Dad, however, gives up trying to find another horse, and rides off with the loot. Rio is of course caught when his ammo runs
out, and goes to prison. Breaking out after five years of brutal treatment, Rio eventually meets Dad again, still a nasty and deceptive man but now sheriff of a small town, with a wife (Jurado) and stepdaughter (Pellicer). It's not Father's Day, folks--Dad knows he's in trouble, so he takes steps
to protect himself against the vengeful Rio.
Brando took over the film from Stanley Kubrick after the two disagreed on character development. The story draws heavily upon the legend of Billy the Kid (the father-son relationship between Malden and Brando is almost identical to that between lawman Pat Garrett and the outlaw William Bonney; the
escape from jail and the abusive guard are obviously drawn from the Kid's own experiences). It is also fraught with too many pensive moments in which Brando, obviously in love with his own performance, broods and ponders. The painfully exacting star took all the time in the world behind the camera
as well, spending six months shooting a film scheduled for two, exposing over a million feet of film. Marshek and others edited the film down to 141 minutes but it was still overlong, with scenes that played up Brando's martyr-like character (the whipping scene is almost a duplication of the
Crucifixion). Lang's photography of the spectacular Monterey Peninsula, the windswept, ocean-lapped coast and rocky coastline, is outstanding, and Brando's performance, weird or not, is dynamic and intriguing. Malden is a classic study in guile, but the talented Jurado is unfortunately only a
prop, and Pellicer is unconvincing as the naive girl. (This was Pellicer's only US film; after a short-lived career in Mexican pictures, she committed suicide at the age of 24.) Costing over $6 million (with an original budget of only $1.8 million), it only returned $4.3 million. This tale of
basic revenge shows man as vile and contemptuous of his fellow man, a view repeatedly seen through the eyes of the often smug but never boring Brando.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Make room for Marlon. This offbeat, indulgent western, the only film directed by La Marlon, is almost as strange as his later THE MISSOURI BREAKS, but it does pack a wallp for patient viewers. Rio (Brando) and Dad (Malden) are bandits who rob a Mexican ban… (more)