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[Spikes gets ready to leave Tod, who has been severely wounded]
I'd stay by his side if I thought it would do him any good and me no harm. But that ain't the way it lies.
Don't you care nothing for him? You just said you did!
I've left men dead behind me. I've left men dying behind me. And I've left 'em calling my name. What you do is shut your ears and close your eyes and run like hell. If you boys were older and been in it longer, you'd know that's the only way to live.
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This is probably Richard Fleischer's last good movie;it's considered polite to say that all he did after "solyent green" is worthless.Richard Fleischer made lots and lots of great movies from " follow me quietly" to " the narrow margin" ,from "20,0000 leagues under the sea" to "The Vikings "and from "Barabbas" to "the Boston strangler" to the stunning (and perhaps his masterpiece) "10 Rillington Place" After "Solyent green" which featured the extremely moving scene of the death of Edward G.Robinson (who eventually died some months after),only "Spikes gang" shows something of the unqualified brilliance that accompanies Fleischer in his career through "Solyent green" .It is a western which has nothing to do with the epics of Ford,Daves or Walsh or Mann.It has also (fortunately) nothing to do with Peckinpah.
Filmed in Spain,its spirit is actually close to that of Arthur Penn,particularly "Bonnie and Clyde".When Grimes is daydreaming and sees his father tell him :"you're no longer my son;you're dead" ,it recalls that scene when Bonnie meets her mom for a picnic and the old lady says "you're already dead ,Bonnie Parker" .
The three lads are in search of a father ,which is very Pennesque ,notably in "the left handed gun" .even in a non-western film such as "the miracle worker" Ann Sullivan was Helen Keller's second mom. Grimes' father was a religious man ,perhaps not far from being a fanatic (his part is too underwritten).Remember that scene in the bank where the ticking of the clock merges into the memories of the whip coming down .Lee Marvin is their new father and I go as far as to write that Grimes is some kind of father to his two mates too when he is absent.
The three lads are amateurs and cannot free them of the concept of right and wrong ,coming from a religion which does not give any answer;when they're eating hosts and drinking sacred wine,one of the youngest speaks of blasphemy but their leader tells them so "Christ would give them to us if He were here" .
Lee Marvin's character is extremely interesting.Lee Marvin never overplays and the discovery that he was once married to an educated wife ,a teacher who spoke several languages and played the piano comes aside as a shock.This memory is necessary ;without it,the ending would not make any sense.
An inferior director would have made "men" of the three teenagers ;but they can't :their dreams ,their remorse,the letter one of them sends to his mom,the trust they put in Marvin,all indicates that when they die they will still be big children.
Like this?try this.....
"Run for cover" Nicholas Ray 1955
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