Monday, April 30, 2007

Essential viewing

Turner Classic Movies will show the Kirk Douglas movie Lonely Are the Brave tomorrow (May 1) at 6:00 p.m. (ET), 3:00 p.m. (PT). Widescreen. No commercials. All 107 minutes of it. Fer chrissakes, set your VCRs or Tivos or DVRs or whatever.

Lonely Are the Brave, released in 1962 and inexplicably unavailable on DVD, is based on Edward Abbey’s great novel The Brave Cowboy. The movie was directed by David Miller and the screenplay is by Dalton Trumbo. The film’s spectacular. Douglas plays modern cowboy Jack Burns, riding horseback through New Mexico, still fighting the barbed wire and the system. The final scenes in the hills, Burns standing alone against government helicopters and Jeeps, are classic.

Lonely Are the Brave, also starring Gena Rowlands and Walter Matthau, was Douglas’s all-time favorite from among his some 80 movies. The New Yorker, typically, called it a “shoddy and simple-minded song of hatred for twentieth-century American society.” Edward Abbey, impressed by how faithful the film was to his novel, responded to the review: “Exactly! Exactly what I meant the book to be. I am quite pleased by the reviewer’s observation.”

Don’t miss Lonely Are the Brave.


At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Tom Ender said...

That's one terrific movie. One can register a desire at TCM for this film to come out on DVD at this page.
('Vote' down the page a ways on the right side.)

My Man Godfrey, although not as anarchistically themed as Lonely are the Brave -- but still well worth viewing, comes on TCM three hours earlier. The movie in between them also has some merit.

At 12:44 AM, Blogger David Houser said...

Well I guess I know what I'll do with my day off tomorrow. Thanks for the tip, I'd have missed it otherwise.

At 3:36 AM, Anonymous Tom Gellhaus said...

Wally, have you ever seen Dersu Uzala, a 1975 film by director Akira Kurosawa ? Sounds like it has very similar themes to this Kirk Douglas movie. And the scenery is so awesome. I do hope you aren't one of those who dislike subtitles.

At 11:39 PM, Anonymous Vaughn said...

I'm surprised to read that Abbey found the film faithful to the novel. My impression to this point was that he felt the movie was greatly watered down - but I can't cite a reference for this...

I'm an Abbey fan - first read a few rough chapters of what would eventually become The Fool's Progress in an Arizona weekly in the mid-80s and have followed his work since.

Brave Cowboy is one of my favorite Abbey novels for a handful of reasons - and after several years of anticipating seeing the movie - I was fairly disappointed when I did see it. One of the biggest liberties the movie takes is the avoidance of the draft/conscription issue by changing it - as I recall - to a less controversial device. My strong impression was that the film was quite sanitised compared to the Abbey version.

I did enjoy the film in some respects - and given the environment of its release it probably was controversial in delivery and plot - but nothing like the original novel - imo.

Wonder what would have happened if Peckinpah had done the film - maybe with McQueen as Burns - a much darker version of Junior Bonner...?


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