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As a boy, I never liked western films. My father loved them all, all the
John Wayne classics, the Spaghetti Westerns, the whole
I despised them all. They were all the same. Same plot. Same rotten cinematography. Same unbelievable characters. Couldn't understand the attraction.
Then I saw Lonesome Dove. This film (actually a mini-series) is an absolute masterpiece.
It starts with the cinematography and locations. It was not your stereotypical Utah-canyon photography, it was the great plains, the Texas deserts, the wide rivers, the mesquite groves. Not marvelous vistas, but simple, real, gritty scenery. You can taste the dust of the panhandle and smell the Kansas plains.
Then there's the action. There's lots of it. Flooding rivers, driving rains, realistic fights, thundering cattle drives, horrible scenes of rape and torture (just under TV censor radar), plenty of death and sadness. All of it believable. All of it heart-tugging. All of it amazing.
But above all of these great features are the characters and the writing. Augustus McCrae and Woodrow F. Call have become two icons of pop culture, polar opposites who work well together and, in the end, are incomplete without one another. The supporting cast as well is fabulous, well written, patently interesting, and tremendously played. Even the evil characters are fascinating.
This is what television and film should be. It is very, very rare for anything of this quality to ever appear on the small screen, and with today's "reality TV" craze, it is even rarer still.
Buy the DVD set. You won't be disappointed. 10 out of 10.
In my opinion, this is the best motion picture of all time! Yes, if you
put this in the movie category (it's actually a mini-series), it's
better than The Godfather,Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Shawshank
Redemption, and so on. The plot, acting, music, character
The production is as if you were plopped onto a horse in the middle of a cattle drive in the 1880's American West. The details are simply amazing. Every little thing was as if it was 1880...the dialogue, character depth, harshness of life...and the utter chaos and randomness of how events played out.
While there are a couple special effects that might have been improved, this production is as theatrically ideal as the Mona Lisa! When you have time, rent it. I watch it once every year and invite friends.
Originally reviewed in 1-24-03.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
- namely that "Lonesome Dove" made every other Western I've ever seen, even
those I used to like, seem corny.
I loaned it out to a friend. "Six hours?" he said, "I haven't got six hours to waste watching a movie."
Two days later, I got a phone call. "Thanks a lot, buddy," my friend told me, "I watched it all the way through, then started from the beginning and watched it again. Twelve solid hours! And I had other things to do, too!"
It's that good!
How in the world did they do it? How did they fight off the "helpful" execs who must have told them things like: "NO NO NO!. Cowboys never wore hats like that, or carried guns like that. And why don't you shoot it in places with more spectacular scenery, like the National Parks? And why do you insist on taking all that time introducing the characters? And why isn't there more quick draws and fancy gunplay? And how come the good guys don't triumph in the end? And you can't just kill off sympathetic characters like that! Haven't you people ever seen a western movie? YOU JUST CAN'T DO IT THIS WAY!"
But by some miracle, they could, and did.
The fact that Gus and Call ride past the Alamo WITHOUT SAYING A SINGLE WORD ABOUT IT, just stunned me!
Top notch everything! Go anywhere in it, pause it, turn off the color and feast your eyes on the most convincing presentation of the West as it appeared in the 1870s you'll ever see outside a museum.
I am in awe of this masterpiece.
Don't rent it, BUY IT.
The Lonesome Dove mini-series contains every core element of a classic story of the mythic Old West: romance, tragedy, courageous and independent yet very human heroes, vicious yet believable villains, plenty of action, and the overall grit and determination of frontier life. These elements are all woven into an enthralling story centered on an epic journey across the American frontier--a cattle drive from Texas to Montana undertaken shortly after the Custer massacre. The movie is extremely faithful (in plot, dialogue, and characterizations) to the excellent novel by Larry McMurtry, and especially benefits from McMurtry's genius at narrative and story construction. What makes the film even better are the truly exceptional performances by the first rate cast, that includes Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Ulrich, and Anjelica Huston, and the great musical score, which won a well-deserved Emmy. This is the kind of film about the Old West that only comes along once in a blue moon, and lovers of Old West stories and movies (as well as real-life cowboys) watch it over and over. In my view, it ranks above even the classics of Western film, including Red River, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Shane--and I love all of those films. Even though it is over six hours long, and technically a TV mini-series, it should be considered a great film.
Little did I realize when I picked up the videotape of `Lonesome Dove' that
I would be pitching a tent myself, camped out in front of the tube for most
of my Saturday (6 hours, not including pauses for bathroom breaks, meals,
letting the dog out, etc.). It certainly rearranged all my weekend
priorities, but it was well worth the sacrifice after all the hoopola I've
heard regarding this movie. It is a must experience.
Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones top-line an outstanding cast in this epic-proportioned western which should have been worthy of a cinematic release for it captures beautifully the look, the feel and the time of the Old West as never before.
In a nutshell, it relates the tale of two former Texas Rangers, Woodrow Call (Jones) and Gus McCrae (Duvall), both getting on in years, who manage a dusty but comfortable living running a cattle company just outside rundown Lonesome Dove, Texas. A third ranger, Jake Spoon (Robert Urich), returns from up north, on the lam for an accidental murder, and perks Woodrow's interest in being the first to take a herd into the mostly unsettled northern region of Montana, while laying claim to an area considered `perfect cattle territory.' He convinces relaxed old-timer Gus, who is content these days with a bottle of whiskey and a whore, to join him for one last thrill to recapture their old "Texas Ranger" glory days and shake up their too sedentary lives.
Re-stealing horses and a herd from Mexican bandidos, they sign on a team of men to undertake the arduous journey eventually braving about every type of adversity imaginable. When it's not windstorms and snake-infested waters threatening life, limb and livestock, they have murderous horse thieves and vengeful Indians to contend with.
What makes `Lonesome Dove' stand out proudly is not only its rich, panoramic beauty and intriguing story-lines, but its caring, sharply-defineated characters that keep this six-hour plus movie from ever wandering off. These are people you become fascinated with; people that you want to know as much as you can about even minor characters stay with you here, such as the desponding, thick-accented bar-owner who carries the torch for one of his whores, or the spiritual cook who passes out whittled amulet-like carvings to the cattle team. When asked why he doesn't ride horses, he simply responds, `We are all animals. How would you like it if someone rode on you?'
An intricate, finely-tuned subplot weaves in and out of the main Woodrow/Gus narrative. A northern sheriff July Johnson (Chris Cooper), accompanied by his stepson, reluctantly takes off to Texas after Jake Spoon for the accidental murder of the town's mayor, but gets sidetracked halfway when he learns his new wife Elmira (Glenne Headley) has abandoned him and the boy in her obsession to find the no-account man she left behind.
The acting is superb all around, especially by those mentioned above. They give this movie such heart and scope. Also contributing greatly are Diane Lane as the town whore who seeks a better life; earnest Ricky Schroeder as the youngest member of the team whose family tree is questioned; Danny Glover, the wise and dedicated team scout; Barry Corbin as the slow-thinking undersheriff; Frederic Forrest as the murderous redskin Blue Duck; Angelica Huston as Duvall's kind-hearted former flame; Steve Buscemi and Frederick Coffin as a pair of lusty lowlifes; Nina Siemaszko as a scrappy backwoods waif, and others too numerous to name. But Tommy Lee Jones and, especially, Robert Duvall are the heart and soul of this piece. They limn characters so fascinating and complete, they just stand apart from the rest. Gus McCrae, in particular, will be remembered as one of Duvall's proudest creations.
So, if you are into all-day campouts that will make you feel you yourself have been on a trek, `Lonesome Dove' is your ticket. It is wondrous entertainment that now lies in the miniseries Hall of Fame along with "Roots."
I usually shun mini-series. Sooo long, sooo boring. Lonesome Dove is anything but. It's one of the most realistic, best character driven films ever made. Everyone is good, even Ricky (sorry, RICK) Schroeder, but Robert Duval is AMAZING. His Augustus McCrae is so perfect, that one would swear that Robert Duval is that character! He makes this film for me and I was really happy to hear that it was Duval's favorite character out of his long, excellent career. Lonesome Dove, which is so brilliant, should be on the list of anyone who likes westerns, and anyone who likes good filmmaking in general!
This six-hour television mini-series was as good as advertised, which
is saying a lot. I don't prefer long movies but this is very watchable.
It's such an interesting story and so-well photographed that you don't
mind the long length.
The acting is top-rate, led by Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, with a deep cast that includes many well-known actors. As a male, I really enjoyed ogling Diane Lane and I've always liked Glenne Headley, too, although more for her voice.
Fredric Forest is absolutely brutal as the half-breed killer, one of the most unremorseful murderers I've even seen on film. Angelica Huston, Rick Schroeder, Danny Glover, Robert Urtich, D.B. Sweeney and Steve Buscemi all were superb, too.
The story has a great mix of drama, romance, action, sadness and just plain realism. The characters are bold and unrelenting and you find yourself getting wrapped up in this story and with these people, what they went through. It's just great storytelling but - as in real life - it isn't all roses; there's a lot of sadness here.
Larry McMurtry's wonderful story is beautifully and amazingly brought to the screen by director Simon Wincer. It assembles together one of the best casts in movie history. Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones are nearly perfect. Duvall has been quoted as saying that Gus McCrae was his favorite character he ever played. He is certainly mine. Angelica Huston is the perfect person to play Clara. It is almost like Larry McMurtry had some of these actors and actresses in mind when he wrote his novel. The only exception is Frederic Forrest as Blue Duck. He does a fine job with what he's got, but the man just isn't big enough or scary enough for this role. The story is incredible. The scenery is beautiful. Lonesome Dove is, in my opinion, the best western ever made. A definite must see for everyone.
I saw this when it first debuted on TV early in 1989 simply for the fact that much of it was filmed in Austin, but was absolutely drawn to it pretty fast and for four nights in a row I was taping it off TV and watching it religiously. Never have I seen a western that portrayed life the way it probably really was in the 1880's like this one, not to mention most old westerns suffered from terrible production values and always seemed to be filmed in California's chaparral country between L.A. and Death Valley. The locations in this one were so authentic in comparison. The basically simple story revolves around two old retired Texas Rangers who have spent the last 10 years wasting away in a lifeless south Texas desert border town and decide to make the move to Montana. Along the way they meet an Arkansas sheriff, who is after one in their bunch, an old flame of Robert Duvall's, and numerous Indian raids. I noticed something peculiar, and maybe it is historically accurate, but it seems that race relations with blacks were not an issue in the old west and they seemed to be treated as equals, much unlike to their old south counterparts. Nothing but flamboyant characters abounded; my favorites were a then-unknown Steve Buscemi as a trashy animal fur wearing horse buggy provider, Chris Cooper as a weak, but well-meaning sheriff, Barry Corbin as his slow-witted deputy, a minor character living in east Texas backwoods skinning a posssum, and on top of all them, Robert Duvall as Gus. Tommy Lee Jones didn't flaunt his comic talents as he did in many flms after this one and always had a rain cloud over his head.
This is just plan great , nothing else to be said . Tommy Lee Jones , Robert Duvall , Danny Glover & alot of others . But names don't make great movies , this one has everything you need for a great movie . Screenplay , acting , directing & alot actors with not one dull showing .
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