The extremely low holsters worn by the three boys are so unauthentic to the period as to be downright silly. See more »
Don't look so scared boys. Hell, look at me.
[Turns around while naked, indicating his various wounds]
Vadalia... Northfield... Jonesboro... Elysian Township... Marysville... Gallatin. Oh, I ducked a little late a few times, but I'm still standin'. The thing to do, my friends, is to admit to your fate with Christian resignation and live bravely until your appointed time.
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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 of 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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