Arlecchino Cinema > 09:00


Marlon Brando


Thursday 30/06/2016


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

The first and only film directed by Marlon Brando, this very original western not only features one of his best and most restrained performances – perhaps surprisingly if one thinks he needed a strong director to keep him from over-acting – but it also represents his very promising start as a filmmaker and, given that he did not continue, one of the best ‘one-shot’ careers.
It had a very accident-ridden production history; written initially by Rod Serling, then by Sam Peckinpah (which explains certain similarities to be found in Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, 1973) when Stanley Kubrick was going to direct it, and finally rewritten by Calder Willingham and then Guy Trosper as Brando himself took the reins, it took almost three years (from 1958 to 1960) to complete shooting and get a first cut that lasted five hours, finally recut to 2 hours 41 minutes by the time it was released in 1961, among predictions of commercial disaster and Brando’s dissatisfaction with the final cut.
The story may seem at first glance to be a conventional betrayal and revenge tale, but things are not so simple, once developed and filmed with a rather deliberate pace and a romantically tragic view of life. In the first place, there is no hero: the only really decent characters in the whole movie are Modesto (Larry Duran), who gets killed, and Louisa (Pina Pellicer), who was said to be killed in Brando’s intended ending (and the shots still suggest that as the most logical outcome for the doomed girl).
One-Eyed Jacks is one of the very few westerns (I can think of three) where the sea has a significant presence, which is a visually striking change of landscape. It is also remarkably well acted by a very mixed cast which includes players of quite different ‘schools’, from Actors Studio colleague Karl Malden in one of his best roles to Mexicans like Pina Pellicer, Katy Jurado or Rodolfo Acosta, John Ford veterans Ben Johnson and Hank Worden, and rather noir players such as Elisha Cook, Jr. and Timothy Carey. A pity Brando did not direct again.

Miguel Marías

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo La storia di Hendry Jones di Charles Neider. Scen.: Guy Trosper, Calder Willingham. F.: Charles Lang Jr. M.: Archie Marshek. Scgf.: Hal Pereira, J. McMillan Johnson. Mus.: Hugo Friedhofer. Int.: Marlon Brando (Rio), Karl Malden (Dad Longworth), Pina Pellicer (Louisa), Katy Jurado (Maria), Ben Johnson (Bob Amory), Slim Pickens (Lon), Larry Duran (Modesto), Hank Worden (Doc), Rodolfo Acosta (capo dei Rurales), Timothy Carey (Howard Tetley), Elisha Cook (Carvey). Prod.: Frank P. Rosenberg per Pennebaker, Inc.. DCP. D.: 141’. Col.