|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Index||16 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jacob Wade (Jack Palance) used to be a celebrated shootist just
stepping into middle age and mortally weary of having to be asked to
leave every town he rides into
To make matters worse, a few notorious
outlaws, led by the vile King (Neville Brand), are also out to take him
Now he tries to do something for his boy Riley (Anthony Perkins) by catching and breaking mustangs in Echo Canyon, the best wild horse country in the territory
Complicating the situations further is Jacob's bad relationship with a kid who hates him, and Ada Marshall (Elaine Aiken), a young woman whom Jacob met in a gambling hall, and shot a man on account of her
Here is a thinking person's Western that deals with one ex-gunman who also is unable to shake his past and whose ultimate goal for taking root again is by lynching
Levin shows a dark, depressing, and sadly realistic face of the west... In fact, the entire movie is a drama of characters But watching the film, you would be able to feel how Levin equates victory with redemption
I looked at all the comments made for this film, but I feel I need to mention what's good about it. The acting and characters are first-rate and there are several familiar faces. The black and white cinematography is the best I've ever seen in a western...The location is wonderful--all in all the best looking western ever!!!! These things alone make it worth watching... I agree that the plot has lots of holes and needs some explaining at times, and answers to many questions are never given... But give this film a try...it's still very good!
This film has a lot going for it. It was done in Vistavision a process that gave a superior quality to the film on the screen, and unusually in black and white, since most of the films in Vistavision were in color. The cinematography is great, specially when it shows the wild horses being chased and captured. It has three excellent performances by Jack Palance, Tony Perkins and most of all by Elaine Aiken. Palance is a gunfighter who wants to change his lifestyle but knows that the odds are against it. But he takes upon himself the mission of turning his revolted son Tony Perkins into a better person. In this task he is helped by his former mistress Elaine Aiken with whom he wants no more involvement. There is quite a sensual chemistry between Aiken and Perkins. I wonder why such a talented, good looking woman like Aiken made so few films. It is very hard for a normal father son relationship to develop between Palance an Perkins, and director Henry Levin handles it very well, making the film come to a very satisfactory ending.
Since childhood I've found the actors playing the bad guys more interesting than the main characters,at least till about 1970 or so.Many that I viewed in the 1950's didn't last long in a movie or TV program because they were an early victim to the star.Some eventually went on to make names for their selves but for the most part I liked them more when playing minor roles.Some of those minor role villains are in this movie and I found them very entertaining.There's Neville Brand playing King Fisher,a good performer but sometimes a little bit to scary even for me when dealing out punishment.Others like Faro (Lee Van Cleef),Sundown Whipple(John Doucette) and Blackburn(Claude Akins) are in top menacing form.While not a household name another quality performer is Robert Middleton playing Ben Ryerson.Whether playing a politician or a mob boss he gives a quality performance.In this movie he's a bit grubby looking but handy with both a gun and a knife.Then there's Willie (Elisha Cook Jr) one of Fisher's men.He usually bursts into a room big eyed bearing news but has to grab a quick drink before speaking.So much to my delight the cast includes a rouge's gallery of personal favorites,almost like a dream come true.For those who like the good guys the movie leans more towards a nightmare.Jack Palance plays Jacob Wade the main character.As usual he has the look of a strong tough looking man.His performance is better than usual but that just means it's not as stiff as usual.The story lacks a bit of direction also.Those two points are forgotten because of Anthony Perkins who plays Jacob Wade's son Riley.His part lacks direction or maybe a director as it seems like he or someone else wants to sabotage this movie.First off he's too old and big to be playing the part of the son.When he does show some sign of a emotion it's fitting more for someone at least 10 years younger than him.To the simple statement that his mother(deceased) was a fine woman he responds blandly"talk about my mother again and I'll kill you",really off the wall.Elaine Aiken gives a good performance and is nice looking.In another comment it was basically said her character with it's good qualities has no reason to be interested romantically in the wimpy Perkins character,that's hitting the nail on the head.So this movie was just about what I expected,the minor roles out shining the main characters.One of the main characters looked like a good friend must of gave them the part.
I found "Lonely Man' in a local library. I can't believe it only has 26 votes on the IMDB. This is not as great as the Anthony Mann films I've studied in grad school. There is one with Anthony Perkins called "The Tin Star" which I would recommend more. But, this is still a good Western which doesn't follow the conventional theme/structure narrative. Worth a look.
This isn't the cowboys vs. indians or "saved by the Cavalry" formulaic western. There is characterization! Jack Palance delivers a great performance. He can act when the script and director allowed him. Tony Perkins seems to be the same character as he was in Tin Star. Great outdoor scenery; the studio should have paid the extra cost to film this in Technicolor.
The Lonely Man is directed by Henry Levin and written by Harry Essex
and Robert Smith. It stars Jack Palance, Anthony Perkins, Elaine Aiken,
Neville Brand, Robert Middleton, Elisha Cook Jr. and Claude Akins. It's
a VistaVision production with cinematography by Lionel Lindon, music
scored by Van Cleave and the title track sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford.
Trying to leave his gun slinging days behind him, Jacob Wade (Palance) tries desperately to bond with his son Riley (Perkins) who blames him for his Mother's death.
From the outset as Tennessee Ernie Ford warbles a soft ballad over the opening credits, you know that we are in for a Western sorrowful in tone, and so it proves. I confess it's a film I hadn't really heard of before and kind of stumbled upon it by accident. It certainly seems to be under seen, while judging by the lack of written critique's for it, most probably forgotten by those who viewed it many years ago.
It's a film with problems, there is no getting away from that, but for the Western fan who has a bent for films like Shane, The Gunfighter and Unforgiven (and it is no way in the same league as these pictures) it has narrative rewards. There is very little action here, a couple of horse pursuits (though these are very well filmed and are exciting) and a short gunfight are about as thrilling as it gets, because this is very much a character study and smiles are very much in short supply. Story follows father and estranged son forming an uneasy alliance as Jacob tries to set Riley up for the future, truths will out along the way and Jacob's past is coming back to haunt him. There's a girl in the middle, naturally, and health will also come into play.
Filmed out of the Sierra Mountains, Lone Pine and the Mojave Desert, the back drops are excellent. Lionel Lindon's black and white photography is a real asset to the picture in how it captures the mournful mood of the story. While for the finale we move into noir territory as Levin and Lindon darken the skies and bring the atmospheric shadows, and this is something that perfectly cloaks what unfolds in the story. The support cast is like a whose who of Western character actors: Elisha Cook Jr., Neville Brand, Claude Akins, Lee Van Cleef, Denver Pyle, Harry Shannon and John Douchette, all of whom owe the Western fan nothing. But here lies one of the film's major problems
With a dialogue heavy picture such as this, we reasonably expect good characterisations, unfortunately we just don't get that. Palance is basically required to just look tough and emote when faced with Perkins' whiny barbs. Oh they are good at being emotive and whiny respectively, but the screenplay just doesn't ask anything of them, with some interesting threads dangled but never expanded upon. Aiken is stock female fodder, and again she plays a character that just exists since the interesting possibilities are not explored. Then there's the number of characters played by those wonderful Western actors that just drift in and out of the film with no chance to impact on proceedings. Brand does get a neat role, and shows a good mean streak whilst introducing us to some cowardly bastard tactics, but he's still under written.
The lack of depth to plotting and complexity of principal characters is such a shame, as is the uneven direction of Levin. Yet I personally was very pleased to have seen this, it has some merits in the "moody redemption" splinter of Western films. A cautious and generous 7/10 from me.
This film has got merit not least the photography. It is beautifully shot and the location has much to admire. There is a touch of John Ford in parts. Its main strength is the performance by Jack Palance. Anthony Perkins is ok but he has not a lot to do. Small parts by familiar actors adds to the attractions of the film which is well worth a viewing. One of my childhood best loved films which I was not disappointed with when I watched it recently.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A talkative and somewhat slow-moving western that gradually builds to a good climax, The Lonely Man is further hampered by the casting of two super-slow talkers, namely Jack Palance and Anthony Perkins, in the leading roles. When these two men are on screen, I always have the feeling that they speak slowly because they feel the dialogue has a depth to it which is not readily apparent to a bum director like Henry Levin, so they are forced to do his job for him by speaking extra slowly so that the audience will get all the hidden nuances that Levin has neither the guts nor the ability to bring out. True, Levin had a reputation as a fast shooter and I've no doubt the movie is not as effective as it might have been had Levin been forced to direct the rest of the film with as much care as he brings to the Palace-Perkins scenes and to the climactic gun fight. Fortunately, the rugged natural locales of the story are impressively captured by cinematographer Lionel Lindon, and a young actress named Elaine Aiken makes an impressive debut, but alas, nothing came of her career. She had minor roles in Doomsday Voyage, Night Flowers, Caddyshack and that's it! The Lonely Man is available on a very good Paramount DVD.
With an on paper intriguing story and a cast that includes Jack
Palance, Anthony Perkins, Lee Van Cleef and Elisha Cook Jnr. 'The
Lonely Man' promised a lot. And it delivers a lot too luckily.
Have admittedly seen fairly little of director Henry Levin's body of work, but the little seen of him has left me somewhat indifferent. To me though, 'The Lonely Man' is among his better and more interesting films and is worthy of more attention than the not-very-well-known status it's garnered. Sure, it's not perfect and there are better westerns around but 'The Lonely Man' has a lot to recommend and has a few interest points (including Anthony Perkins in an early role pre-Norman Bates, him and Palance trying to out-smoulder each other and the Oedipal relationship between Riley and Ada).
The Oedipal relationship did feel underdeveloped and doesn't have anywhere near the passion and poignancy of the evolving father and son relationship between Jacob and Riley that dominates 'The Lonely Man'. Elaine Aiken does her best but is a little bland in a role that doesn't give her that much to do.
Occasionally, the general tightness of the pace loosens and becomes a little too leisurely and there are a few things in the story and supporting characters (King Fisher's allies also felt on the underwritten side) that could have done with more exploration and made sense more.
Conversely, 'The Lonely Man' does look great. The cinematography is truly beautiful on the eyes as well as being suitably moody, and the very natural and handsome locales are similarly well done. The music suits the atmosphere well, having a sweep and understatement. Levin's direction is efficient rather than the routine direction somewhat expected.
'The Lonely Man' is tautly written and sometimes has an offbeat tone, while the story is mostly very absorbing and there is a surprising amount of emotion. It is especially good in the father and son relationship, which has initial tension but once the truth comes out it's quite affecting and one roots for a redemptive resolution. The climax is one that had me biting the nails and had me feeling very sad about the outcome (see for yourself).
Perkins acquits himself pretty well in an early role, though he definitely went on to better things (including one of cinema's most iconic villains as Norman Bates in 'Psycho'), and Neville Brand is a formidable opponent with suitably heavyweight support from Van Cleef and Cook. The acting honours however belong to Palance, a powerhouse in a role that suits him to the ground and the type he should have done more of. It was really fascinating seeing he and Perkins out-smoulder each other but, while they work incredibly well, Perkins is no match for Palance in that department. Mainly because we're talking about an early career actor against one with one of the most intimidating physiques in "classic film/Golden Age film".
Overall, a well done and interesting different western that flaws and all should be better known. 7/10 Bethany Cox
|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|