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The author of the book "Dead Man's Walk" also wrote the screenplay for this
film, which is obvious when one sees how closely the film adheres to the
book. Although I have read the book in question, it didn't curtail my
enjoyment of the movie.
One notices how closely the young actors portraying Gus McRae and Woodrow Call (David Arquette and Johny Lee Miller) resemble older versions of the same characters as actualized by Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones. My guess is that making that resemblance a fact was of paramount importance to the filmmakers, as the primary audience for "Dead Man's Walk" has already seen "Lonesome Dove" and would be disappointed if Arquette's performance didn't recall Duvall's and Miller's work wasn't reminiscent of Jones'.
Although it may have been primarily a marketing decision, the strong resemblance between young and old Gus and Call works for me and, oddly enough, binds the two miniseries together.
May we now see a miniseries based on McMurtry's second prequel, "Comanche Moon"?
This is a great adaptation of the Larry McMurtry novel. The script follows the novel very closely, which is the number one requirement of any film adaptation of McMurtry's work. McMurtry's dialogue compels readers to fall in love with the characters, so it must be preserved. David Arquette and Jonny Lee Miller are very believable as young versions of Gus McCrae and Woodrow McCall. Arquette has even picked up some of the physical mannerisms that Robert Duvall used earlier in Lonesome Dove. Patricia Childress really captures the role of the tender-hearted young prostitute Mattie Roberts. Eric Schweig is chilling as the dangerous Comanche Chief Buffalo Hump, and the stunt work by Judson Keith Linn when doubling for Schweig is fantastic. The sequence where he rides down one of the Texas Rangers and scalps him from horseback is thrilling and terrifying. An equally terrifying nighttime sequence involves Buffalo Hump chasing down Gus on foot during a lightning storm and spearing him with his lance. The cast is full of noted character actors including Brian Dennehy, Keith Carradine, Harry Dean Stanton, F. Murray Abraham, and Edward James Olmos. Olmos is particularly effective as Mexican Army Captain Salazar. I love this mini-series, but it should not be compared to Lonesome Dove. Every adaptation of McMurtry books is different, using different casts, etc. Don't compare them, just enjoy them!
While the previous comments praise the actors' style and likeness in terms
of their forebears (Jones and Duvall), this movie is a pleasure to watch
way of the incredible scenery and the presence of several veteran
actors like Harry Dean Stanton, Keith Carradine, and the always awesome,
Edward James Olmos. Fans of "O Brother Where Art Thou" will be pleased to
see Ray McKinnon and Tim Blake Nelson featured prominently. I also
all of the previous comments were written by Yankees, so I might point out
that the landscapes are a bit flawed (albeit beautiful) in terms of
Texas-New Mexico geography. I've been to all of the places described in
book... believe me, most of West Texas is flatter than they let on! The
sunsets are accurate, as are the rocky buttes, but they're using the Davis
Mountains of the Big Bend region as the backdrop for most of the film, and
that's a bit of a stretch. If you ever want to see some of the most
beautiful scenery in West Texas, visit there sometime. The real places
traveled weren't always so pretty. I found that the actors didn't seem to
be struggling for food and water as much as the characters in the book.
Survival (man vs. nature) is a big part of the novel, and doesn't feature
too prominently here. I kept getting hungry and thirsty while reading it!
McMurtry mixes in a lot of real events with the narrative. You might
this stuff is fiction... it's not! Bigfoot Wallace was a real character
and was known to have done many of the things this character experiences.
The real Bigfoot survived to tell the tales as a seasoned old fart. The
Santa Fe expedition is real.. and what happens to them is real. The
Comanches as the lords of the plains? You bet! The were the kings of the
Llano Estacado for 200 years. Buffalo Hump was real Comanche chief... his
real name, Hard Penis, was too much for 19th century Texans so they gave
the new moniker. The descriptions of torture? McMurtry uses real
he doesn't have to make this stuff up to be shocking... it really
The timeline is a bit compressed for drama, but the Texans of the 1840's
lived this stuff. The Black Bean drawing is also real, but it happened in
Saltillo Mexico and 17 guys drew black.
For a dose of Texas History, you can't beat Dead Man's Walk. Read the book! But don't be afraid to read James Haley's "Texas: From Frontier to Spindletop". It's the real deal and includes just as much gore, drama, and adventure.
In this prequel to "Lonesome Dove" based on the book by Larry McMurtry, we
find a young Woodrow Call and Augustus Macrae just starting out as Texas
Rangers and beginning to become men.
David Arquette is fantastic as the young Macrae and really captures the gestures and mannerisms that Robert Duvall put too such good use in Lonesome Dove. I was very impressed with his performance and had no trouble believing that he was the young Gus Macrae.
Johnny Lee Miller does not fare as well as the young Woodrow Call and it is hard to believe that this is the character that Tommy Lee Jones played in the original as there is little that ties their acting styles to the same role.
Visually, this is quite well done and comes the closest to Lonesome Dove in grittiness and open plain shots. The young Rangers are surrounded by eccentric characters played with great aplomb by the likes of Brian Dennehy, F.Murray Abraham, Keith Carradine, Harry Dean Stanton and Edward James Olmos.
Strong acting throughout and a crackling good story hilight this worthy sequel and it makes a fine addition to the lore that is Lonesome Dove.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I got this movie off of Netflix for one reason. I wanted to see Eric Schweig
as legendary Buffalo Hump. But, about a minute into the movie, I started
loving everything about it.
As soon as the movie started off and we saw the old woman saying "beware of
the dark woman on the white mule," it grabbed my attention and I knew it
would be great.
My whole family watched this movie together. My Dad, my Brother, my Mom, my
niece and my brothers girlfriend sat there laughing, crying, just enjoying
it, the whole way round.
I'd have to say my favorite part is at the very end when the English Woman
with Leporasy rode through the desert singing Opera and scaring the living
daylights out of Eric. Another favorite moment was when Eric scalpped Zeke
never slowing down his horse. Eric played the role to perfection.
There were some snappy one-liners that my Dad and me still quote to this
day. (Like that one about them green pastures!)
I was surprised to see Jennifer Garner in the film and I was glad her and
David Arquette's character, Gus McCray, got together in the end. I'd have to
say my favorite character was Maddie. She hung in there. She reminds me a
lot of myself.
I loved it and recommend it to anyone and everyone who likes westerns. Even if you don't like westerns I suggest you see this movie. I give it 9 out of 10. (A point is deducted for the fact that Woodrow walked away from Maggie in the end. I hated that.)
What a truly wonderful miniseries.I laughed, I cried and I even saw a British Lady riding nude through the desert. It scared the dickens out of the "savages." There was never a dull moment. From the time the series began to the end this band of Texans lost comrades but kept up the fight. How many ways can you kill a Texan? This picture shows you. Seriously; I really great epic to be enjoyed on DVD...all 270 minutes of it in one sitting.
I've watched this movie about 4 times, and really enjoyed the
personifications of these historic characters (albeit apocryphal).
Johnny Lee Miller and David Arquette are very convincing as Gus and Woodrow. The most memorable performance is easily that of Keith Carradine. He portrayed Bigfoot Wallace, a larger than life frontiersman, who actually outlived the firing squad at Saltillo, in a clever, poetic and humorous way. The only downer of the movie, is the same with any and all Larry McMurthy films: they're depressing as hell! Death, tragedy and sufferin'! And as with all of his films, the conquering will of the human spirit shines through. A fine example of a Western film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Larry McMurtry always takes some liberties with history; however, he went off the reservation when dealing with Dead Man's walk. He portrayed the Mier Expedition as a "small undertaking" including having Big Foot Wallace and 3 others executed during the black bean selection. This whole section of the story was full of inaccuracies. There were 17 men executed --- and Big Foot Wallace wasn't one of them --- he lived to a ripe old age. Its a good story, however the cast was somewhat lackluster. I've read all of the McMurtry books and can see the characters come to life as in Lonesome Dove. I couldn't say the same for this adaption.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a wonderful evocation of its period. The writing, direction and
especially the acting are all above average -- even David Arquette does
a reasonably successful job of playing a 30-years younger Robert
Duvall-as-Gus-McCrae. He may be imitating Duvall's performance
somewhat, but he does a decent job -- it's quite believable that this
Gus McCrae developed into the later one.
Jonny Lee Miller -- so tight-lipped it's sometimes unbelievable -- does a good job with a thankless role -- "Corporal" Woodrow Call, as the young Clara dubs him (to Gus's consernation).
Jennifer Garner played Clara very well. Her flirtatious flippancy is both alluring and endearing -- and only a little annoying.
Edward James Olmos is perfect, as usual. He's one of my favorite actors, has been since Zoot Suit.
The costuming and setting are exemplary and very true to the pre-Mexican War Southwest.
The only technical/historical problem I have with this film is the weaponry. The flintlock muskets and rifles don't sound correct, and don't discharge nearly enough smoke. (SEMI-SPOILER COMING) No firing squad would shoot with bayonets attached (they detract from accuracy). But the mixture of Colt's Patent Revolvers (tm) and single-shot pistols was correct.
Of course this work pales in comparison to the book -- even the excellent Lonesome Dove was no match for the book. But this is far superior to the L-D sequel, Streets of Laredo.
Dead Man's Walk is a series based on the book of the same name by Larry
McMurtry. I've read the book and found it to be OK, if a little flat.
At just over 500 pages Larry doesn't get into characterization like he
did in Lonesome Dove. Where we would get entire pages dedicated to back
stories of characters, he merely gives us a paragraph here and there.
The series has a good cast except for one glaring short-coming; David Arquette cast as Gus McCrae. To me that would be akin to casting Chris Rock as Jules in a prequel to Pulp Fiction. The story itself is very interesting but what happens in detail is not so much. The entire first hour of the movie is almost pointless. Other than introducing the great Indian warrior's Buffalo Hump and Kicking Wolf, there really isn't anything that is that important, both in the book and in the series. McMurtry really likes killing off people in the Lonesome Dove saga doesn't he? Don't expect much in terms of emotional sine waves, it just isn't going to happen. It's a decent movie but not very memorable.
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