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Having fled to Mexico from the U.S. many years ago for killing his father's murderer, Martin Brady travels to Texas to broker an arms deal for his Mexican boss, strongman Governor Cipriano Castro. Brady breaks a leg and while recuperating in Texas the gun shipment is stolen. Complicating matters further the wife of local army major Colton has designs on him, and the local Texas Ranger captain makes him a generous offer to come back to the states and join his outfit. After killing a man in self defense, Brady slips back over the border and confronts Castro who is not only unhappy that Brady has lost his gun shipment but is about to join forces with Colton to battle the local raiding Apache Indians. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
What a pity then, that life is what we do, and not just what we feel.
Based on a story by artist Tom Lea (who cameos as a barber), The Wonderful Country stars Robert Mitchum, Julie London, Gary Merrill, Charles McGraw & Pedro Armendáriz. It's directed by Robert Parrish, the score is from Alex North with Floyd Crosby & Alex Phillips on cinematography around the Durango location shoot.
A rich western that admirably crams in a lot of genre based themes and boasts a lead protagonist of high complex value. Tightly directed by Parrish (Saddle The Wind), who is aware that this needs no action overkill, it's really with Mitchum and Robert Ardrey's script that the film owes its success. Give or take a couple of missteps with the accent (he is playing a gringo pistolero) Mitchum dominates with his stature and laconic form of acting. He's playing Martin Brady, a man who finds himself being pulled emotionally on both sides of the Mexican/American border, the contrast between both lands, and Brady's persona too (he's effectively a man without a country), is very interesting. There's a number of well drawn characters who file in and out of Brady's life, all serving purpose to the plot, with Julie London's love interest thankfully having a more darker edge than others that were often seen in the genre. There's even an appearance of Baseball Hall Of Fame inductee Leroy 'Satchel' Paige as part of an all black army regiment. Yet another strand in this multi angled movie.
Very sedate in tone but with deep character drama at its core, Parrish's film is a thinking persons movie. Some critics have called it routine, while others have said it's complicated! I just think it's a film that needs to be watched more than once to fully digest its themes. It's not one for the action fan as such, but it is excellently written and performed by the principals. It's also a truly gorgeous movie visually and aurally. A fine film that rewards further on repeat viewings, especially for fans of the great Robert Mitchum. 7/10
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