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This 25 or so minute short film, now available as part of a collection titled "The Short Films of David Lynch," is a ridiculously funny dive into a kind of pure realm of cliché about some cowboys who encounter a wandering Frenchman, and the antics that ensue as they become acquainted. Stereotypes are served up relentlessly as if to demonstrate just how ridiculous they are, while at the same time a kind of light sweetness pervades. There's both a silly, vaudevillian surface humor, and a deeper dreamlike release - if you get the joke. David Lynch basically goes as far as anyone could go with the idea, without getting dark. Though fascinating, nothing on David Lynch's 'Short Films' compilation was too surprising - except this one. It's a real treat.
The Cowboy and the Frenchman, which is included among the lot of the director's short films (some from his days before Eraserhead and some he's done since Mulholland Drive), is so Lynchian if you've only seen one of his films- particularly Wild at Heart or Lost Highway- you could tell who made it. Though it doesn't make it any less strange, it also happens to be his funniest film, with the long takes long enough to capture the awkwardness of the cowboys with their 'captive' Frenchman, and an assortment of strung-together stereotypes. Anything clichéd about French people, or cowboys for that matter, is exploited to a very funny effect. In a way it's funny at times like a Jim Jarmusch film is, in pointing to the differences and lack of communication as something very human and interesting. It's not as 'artsy' as Eraserhead (though with a little nod to that film there are singing faces in the sky), and it takes its time to lead up to ridiculously no point. But it's shot in a very cool black and white film (or maybe video, who knows), some neat shots, and the added plus of the great character actor Harry Dean Stanton among the cast of nobody's (save for Lynch regular Jack Nance). If you can find it, likely among other Lynch shorts or online, it's worth a view. It's an absurd shot of American versus European versus Native American pathos, containing the most morbid though not-too-dreamlike moments of Lynch's films.
I've almost seen all of David Lynch's films. I've seen all of his feature films so now I'm working through the obscure stuff and short films. This is an awesome short film that was apparently an episode for a show that never even got off the ground. I'm glad it was made available in the Short Films of David Lynch DVD because I don't know if we'd be able to see it otherwise. It is much more comedic than much of anything Lynch has done in the past. It's almost slapstick comedy in a way. I love the characters. It's awesome how much is put into them in such a short amount of time. The actors and the story are great also. This is something every Lynch fan should see.
I'm usually intensely critical of comedy, but this is a real gem. I laughed all the way through it. The acting was perfectly idiosyncratic and quirky making for hilarious sequences. I had no idea Lynch had this in him. This short used enough good ideas for a feature length film. Lynch shows here that his talent is very diverse. Kudos, my fellow Madisonian. 10/10
This is goofy and weird but a bit less so once you know what it is.
It's part of a French omnibus program about France seen through the
eyes of foreigners. Lynch was commissioned among others. The original
has now faded from view as these things tend to, the short has carried
on as part of Lynch's catalogue. So that's how we ended up having a
western short with a Frenchman by him.
The first part is the work he turned out. A bumbling Frenchman arrives in a ranch, seemingly spat out by the bush. Ranch-hands take out bagels from his oversized suitcase, Eiffel tower miniatures, snails, everything that is meant to be weird and stereotypically French from the American view. The cowboys have no idea what kind of 'thang' he is, perhaps a spy, but are finally elated to find out he's French.
It's Lynch lampooning his own cultural removal as a country boy from Montana, certainly not mocking America. Harry Stanton as the overseer has a hearing problem and repeats questions; Lynch would write the same quirk into the character he would reserve for himself in Twin Peaks.
This part is some of the funniest work he has done, a hoot of deadpan delivery.
The second part is Lynch indulging his love for weirdly incongruous performance, the scrapyard theatrics he fills both his actual films with and now then has fun with in side projects. We have singing and dancing, French and American form melting into each other, a horse in slow motion. Less interesting.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This starts off pretty funny, but simply becomes too... Lynchian. By the time the girls arrive, it had lost me. The subsequent party scene is oblique, and the only highlight is Harry Dean Stanton's considerable singing talent (who knew? -- not me). I wish Lynch had stuck with straight comedy through and through, yet his more devoted fans might appreciate his surrealism a bit more than I'm able to. I guess I'm too dense. This is the only one of his efforts on The Short Films of David Lynch DVD that I was able to derive any sort of enjoyment from. On a side note, I noticed the boom mic dip briefly into the frame once, which was disappointing.
David Lynch made this as part of a French TV series where various foreign directors directed segments about how they see the French. It is about a group of stupid cowboys who encounter a wandering Frenchman. Cue a culture clash and a host of clichés associated with Americans and French. Starring Lynch regulars Harry Dean Stanton and Jack Nance, The Cowboy and the Frenchman incorporates much of the silly humour typical of Lynch. The trouble is that it isn't very funny. Mainly it's just a bit annoying. It doesn't have any of the sinister and moody feeling more associated with the director. And that's most unfortunate. What it does have is a lot of tiresome comedy. Not recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
More like three, you have to count the Indian.
This film is hilarious. David Lynch, always having the serious work he does with the dirty, bizarre worlds and the disturbing, psychological characters, mixes it up a bit with The Cowboy and the Frenchman, a tale (that doesn't really make sense, as per his usual work) about a bunch of cowboys who find a Frenchman and befriend him. The culture clash is more than one can handle, what with the mix of music, stereotype ("Damn, what's that? Damn, what's that? Damn, what's that? Damn, what's that? Damn, what's that?"), and caricature.
In fact, the entire strength of this short rests on the moment the two underlings open up the Frenchman's case and start pulling out his "affairs", all of them stereotypical things Americans think the French are obsessed with but which are really just things they happen to have a lot of in their culture (the French equivalent would be opening up an American's suitcase and finding a pile of hamburgers and televisions).
Not to say the cowboys don't get their collection of satire, what with shooting random animals, being absolutely stupid, and never understanding anything.
It's piercingly funny, even if it is about five minutes too long and isn't really that much of a work of art as much as just a silly exposition.
This is the funniest thing that I have ever seen.
Seriously. The absurdity of the entire thing is hilarious - I love Harry
Dean Stanton's "What the hell?" that is repeated SO many times.
The plot: Cowboy meets Frenchman and they become quick friends. This film is one that everybody can appreciate.
This is a French tv show that David Lynch was commissioned to make and it is so funny. It is his take on American's perception of the French and all the cliches are thrown in. This is worth checking out just to see Harry Dean Stanton say "What the hell!" over and over again.
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