|Index||9 reviews in total|
A good cast, interesting premise and catchy direction all come to not-very-much here. Max Von Sydow and Gilbert Roland do very well in off-beat parts as a weary pilot desperate for money and a sickly Mexican Cop unwillingly heading up a rag-tag posse chasing across the desert after Ephram Zimbalest as a wanted killer. Emilio Fernandez and Henry Silva add solid support, and Yvette Mimieux is nice to look at, but as the movie goes on -- and on -- there's not much for anyone to do. Serge Bourguignon's direction has its moments, but he apparently didn't care much about keeping up the pace. The result is a film that's sometime interesting to look at but not to watch. It also has the disjointed look of a film that was chopped up rather badly before release. The print aired recently on the Fox Movie Channel also lacks subtitles, which may make the long stretches of conversation in Mexican rather tedious for viewers who don't speak Spanish.
This is a great movie. Part of it was filmed at Old Tucson Studios in Tucson, AZ. I note that it wasn't mentioned. I was the Executive Production Manager for Old Tucson during the making of this film. I still have a picture I took of E. G. Marshal and Kathleen Quinlan. It was the first time (I believe) that Max Von Sydow worked in the USA. I assisted them in their Locations, hotels, etc. while they were here. We had a great time making this film. They allowed the tourist's to come on set as long as we built a line for them to be behind. They enjoyed the shooting with all the stars working right in front of them. I'm looking forward to seeing this movie again once I find it online. I just happened to think about it tonight which is why I'm writing here. Good action film that most all should enjoy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A dream come true for anyone who wants to watch six people listlessly plod across desert terrain while speaking 65% of the dialogue in a language that not everyone knows, this deadening film will likely put most viewers to sleep. Von Sydow (not yet free of his contemplative, expressionless Jesus faces from "The Greatest Story Ever Told") plays a crop dusting pilot who loses everything, including his future freedom, after he crashes his plane on one final flight and destroys a water tank. He strikes a deal with Mexican police captain Roland to pay his fines off by aiding in the capture of a wanted man. Zimbalist plays the man, an American who attempted to kidnap a small boy, the act of which accidentally led to his death. With gal pal Mimieux in tow, he set outs across the desert in her convertible (!), only to be tracked down by Roland, von Sydow and a trio of helpers (police sergeant Fernandez and two young Mexican lads Castelnuovo and Silva.) Once it's discovered that Zimbalist has a $50,000 reward on his head, the five men begin to fracture at the seams, causing disagreement and death. Though this story idea has merit and sounds intriguing, the finished result couldn't be more muddled, dull or disengaging. There is virtually no dramatic thrust or momentum to the film. What's more, the bulk of the dialogue is in Spanish! So, without subtitles, almost nothing being discussed can be fully understood by a solely English-speaking viewer. Naturally, one can get the basic gist of the actions (and this sort of thing is all right in small doses), but it is extremely tiresome to have to try to figure out what is being said between characters over the course of an entire movie! The film also has obnoxiously loud sound effects and incidental music. (The broken guitar scene occurs way too late!) This is especially difficult since what little English dialogue there is is spoken by Swedish (!) von Sydow, Mexican-accented Roland, soft spoken Zimbalist and willowy Mimieux, who apparently used the Leigh Taylor-Young acting handbook here which requires every line to be whispered as breathily as possible. Von Sydow gives a vague and noncommittal performance. Roland attempts to inject a bit of character into his role, but has nothing to work with. Zimbalist is saddled with a smallish part that has confusing motivations. Every clichéd aspect of a Mexican character (loudness, annoying belly laughing, drinking, guitar-playing, obesity, etc...) is brought to the table by Fernandez and his portrayal is quite unpleasant. Mimieux is very attractive with her golden locks blowing and her lovely figure getting rained on, but she has nothing to say or do of consequence. Her role is complete window-dressing. Silva is intriguing and seems slightly homosexual in his role with his shirt tied like Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island". It's hard to gather what his character is about since all of his lines are in Spanish. One of the few assets to the film is Castelnuovo as a handsome, hunky, upstanding young man. His toothy smile and snug jeans go a long way in relieving the relentless tedium of this pointless film. The worthlessness of the story is brought home for good in it's non-ending.
The only way to see this is a rather cropped version of Fox's movie
channel, but that version does have all the Spanish language sub
titled. Though that fact that "our heroes" don't know what is being
said around them is also part of the plot. I assume the film had
subtitles when it was released but it's possible it intentionally
didn't--a bold move that might not have worked--again I don't know, the
subtitles I saw on the film looked to be added for TV.
It's often fascinating to watch and beautifully shot with some striking aerial shots and complex staging. Sydow is very good though his character sometimes slips out of being the central focus of the film. the ending is rather abrupt and more like films from the 1970's than the 1960's which may have been part of what kept audiences away.
But there is real tension and a good set up for the story that develops as the group on their way for THE REWARD slowly divide into rival sectors. The sparse use of music is effective much of the music being source (a guitar and flute) played on screen. It seems to be building to a big pay off which doesn't happen and it loses steam towards the end and then ends too quickly. It is a modern day western perhaps that puts people off as well. Too bad there isn't a perfect version of it to see as it looks to be shot in a very wide Cinemascope aspect ratio, but it could prove to be an undiscovered pleasure for film fans who want to find new films to like--long after box office success of failure matter. Give it a try.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Reward" (1965)is one of the most interesting and well photographed and directed westerns that I've seen. Director Serge Bourguignon ("Sundays and Cybele") proves he's a distinguished director with this tale of two men who try to bring a posse out after a fugitive for the $50,000 reward and end up having to agree to split the reward with the three other men, a sergeant and an Indian and another Mexican. Bourguignon shows his strength just in his casting decisions that he is a top-flight director. In the cast, as his protagonist, a pilot, (Max Von Sydow)paired with Gilbert Roland as an captain, with Emilio Fernandez as the sergeant, Henry Silva as the Indian and Nino Castelnuovo as the other Mexican. Yvette Mimieux plays the girl accompanying Emphrem Zimbalist, Jr. as the fugitive. The cinematography is very well realized by Joe MacDonald in Color By Deluxe. Bourguignon's directorial flourishes abound, the matching of image to sound and the cutting from scene to scene are skillfully wrought. Film Editor was Robert Simpson. Of course, the English subtitles for the Spanish should have been retained. The script was by Bourguignon and Oscar Millard based on a novel by Michael Barrett. Produced by Aaron Rosenberg. There was always a question after "Sundays and Cybele" that it could have been a fluke the film was as good as it was winning Best Foreign Film, (After all it had Patricia Gozzi as the star) but "The Reward" certainly cements his reputation and makes me interested to see his other films. Yes, I think the film should be revived. It is probably more important today than initially upon release. It was a 20th Century-Fox film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There are some films that you just know are never going to improve with time. I've no burning desire to see Rio Conchos again though I wouldn't pass up the opportunity if a Scope print became available. On the other hand, there are movies that you just know you didn't fully appreciate at their first viewing. Maybe you were too young, maybe you had the wrong expectations, maybe the audience was distracting, maybe you missed the beginning, or maybe you were simply too tired or had too many other things on your mind. Such a movie for me is The Reward. Fox signed up Bourguignon after he scored such a big hit with Sundays and Cybele. But this movie, lukewarmly received by the critics, was utterly ignored by the public. Bourguignon tried to salvage his reputation with a Brigitte Bardot drama, Two Weeks in September (1967), followed by a Ray Bradbury story, The Picasso Summer, starring Albert Finney and Yvette Mimieux, in 1969. I'd love to see The Reward again. The acting may not be as heavy as I remember, nor the story so much of a twice-told tale; and the stylishly evocative cinematography may be even more tightly, broodingly atmospheric and rewarding.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To put it mildly, the film is unrewarding at best.
At times, the film is so slow moving that you can actually start to feel the heat from the desert and you still can't empathize or sympathize with the characters.
The Spanish thespians only speak Spanish so there is the constant need to be reading the English sub-titles below the screen.
Yvette Mimieux mumbles and you know that Fernandez is as greedy as they come and will ultimately want all the reward money in question, no matter what it takes to attain it.
It actually takes a while before you can get the gist of whatever a story there is. Fortunately, for the boy who was accidentally killed, he is not seen in the film.
A very poor imitation of The Treasure of the Sierre Madre.
Max van Sydow and Yvette Mimieux in a western? With Efrem Zimbalist?
What were they thinking? Even the presence of Emilio Fernandez (the
great Mapache from "The Wild Bunch"), Gilbert Roland, and Henry Silva
can't rescue this strange re-make of "The Treasure of the Sierra
The story itself is not so bad and with different actors and a different director it might have been better. Director Serge Bourguignon is a Frenchman best known for "Sundays and Cybele" and "Two Weeks in September", not exactly the kinds of films that you think of when looking at someone to work in the Western genre.
When you think of the good westerns made in the mid 60s ("Ride the High Country", "Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", "A Fistful of Dollars". "Cheyenne Autumn", "Cat Ballou", "Shenandoah", "Sons of Katie Elder", "The Wild Bunch") this film pales in comparison.
I have seen two different versions of this "Mexican" film on the Fox
Movie Channel (or its on demand version). The first time was the 1.33
version with no subtitles. While it's true that most of the Norte
Americano characters (which in this case includes Von Sydow whose
accent is very slight--he was reputed to have intentionally learned a
mid-Atlantic version of English) have a limited or non-existent command
of Spanish, you can't really understand what is going on without
subtitles. The novel on which it is based notes that the Americans do
not always understand what is going on but the dialog is in "English"
anyway. A kind of stilted way of talking which suggests a translation.
Also the Mexicans are really Indians except for the police chief who
has been exiled from the big city and wants to get back. Even he might
not understand what the Indians are saying among themselves. The second
time I saw this film (on Fox Film channel, May 2016) it now had English
subs and was letterboxed at 1.85 (though the opening title sequence
clearly shows that this was a full Cinemascope frame originally!). I'd
like to see this in HD (we don't get that for the Fox movie channel
here) and a proper Cinemascope ratio. (TCM please) I would also
recommend Michael Barrett's novel for richer detail which is hinted at
in the film.
Another reviewer compared this film to "Treasure of the Sierra Madre". You could say that it falls into a certain subgenre which I call "a Mexican" like the Wild Bunch and other westerns or several film noirs that take place mostly in Mexico or a goodly number of other films and books which highlight our neighbor south as a place of danger, corruption, illicit behavior, serious crime, poverty, untold wealth, a place of refuge for those fleeing the law, etc. Mexico itself has had a first-class film industry which has had its ups and downs. Mexican noirs of the 40s and 50s are every bit as good as the Hollywood versions and laden with less censorship to boot!
I agree with another reviewer that there may have been more footage that didn't make it into the final cut which would have made elements of the story clearer. Certainly the ending is very abrupt. In any case this is a film that should be given the restoration treatment. Were it to happen it would probably have a much greater reputation. Perhaps the person who was in charge of production at the studio during the film who contributed some information in another review could tell us more about the process that led to its release. Maybe Von Sydow remembers something as well.
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