Movie Review: The Outlaw (1943)

A movie so bad it’s fun to watch[1] ___ 4/10

Reposted from the previous post on October 22, 2014. — ed.

Prologue: “The Outlaw” is a story of the untamed West. Frontier days when the reckless fire of guns and passions blazed an era of death, destruction and lawlessness. Days when the fiery desert sun beat down avengingly (sic) on the many who dared defy justice and outrage decency.

Yeah, right. Avengingly?! Outrage decency?! Who wrote this stuff?

THIS MOVIE outrages decency!

Written by Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht
Screenplay Jules Furthman
Directed by Howard Hughes

Jack Buetel … Billy the Kid
Jane Russell … Rio McDonald
Thomas Mitchell … Pat Garrett
Walter Huston … Doc Holliday
Mimi Aguglia … Guadalupe
Joe Sawyer … Charley
Gene Rizzi … Stranger

From the gitgo, you can search far and wide for a connection between Billy the Kid (William Bonney, played by Jack Buetel) and Doc Holliday (Walter Huston) and you’ll never find one. But who knows whose idea it was—the director Hughes or the writers Hawkes and Hecht—to mess with history so blatantly. My guess is Hughes.

Another thing: the musical score is the first-movement theme of Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Opus 74, ‘Pathétique’ by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1893). I kid you not, Hughes goes positively surreal on the music. About the only connection to that period in the American West is that it’s the second half of the 19th century. This symphony by Tchaikovsky has been standard fare in orchestra halls in the West, like forever, appealing to the wealthy urban elites with refined and educated musical tastes. Pathetique has this connotation of majestic sadness… totally disjoint from a bunch of goofy hillbillies wandering around bantering inanities in the New Mexican desert. Continue reading

Movie Review: The Aviator (2004)

Short version of Howard Hughes’ remarkable life and times

Written by John Logan
Directed by Martin Scorsese

Leonardo DiCaprio … Howard Hughes
Cate Blanchett … Katharine Hepburn
Kate Beckinsale … Ava Gardner
John C. Reilly … Noah Dietrich
Alec Baldwin … Juan Trippe
Alan Alda … Senator Ralph Owen Brewster
Ian Holm … Professor Fitz

This review stems from a “rewatch,” the first viewing occurring on New Year’s Eve.  It’s a fairly long movie and our group was there through the ending into the new year in a nearly empty theater.  But this is worthwhile moviemaking; the writers give us a true American hero who takes on the State and, at least for a while, wins.

Hughes was the son of a Texas oilman-inventor who set up a company and earned a fortune; the old man died when Howard was 18, leaving Howard as a multimillionaire engineering student.  The Aviator follows Howard from 1930, when he produced the movie Hell’s Angels, to 1947 when, at the age of 42, Howard flew the H4-Hercules aircraft he had designed and built (aka the Spruce Goose).

Following the death of his parents, Hughes moved to Hollywood and to become a movie producer.  He was instrumental in the launch of Jean Harlow’s career, and he took a special interest in other celebrity movie femmes in those days.  He produced and directed Hell’s Angels (Harlow) as well as The Front Page, Flying Leathernecks, and ScarfaceContinue reading