1882, New Mexico Territory. Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are itinerant lawmen, hired by desperate towns as marshal and deputy. The city fathers of Appaloosa hire them after Randall Bragg, a newly-arrived rancher with money and a gang of thugs, disrupts commerce and kills three local lawmen. Cole and Hitch contrive to arrest Bragg and bring him to trial, but hanging him proves difficult. Meanwhile, a widow has arrived in town, Allison French, pretty, refined, and good-natured. Virgil falls hard, and it seems mutual, but there may be more to Allie than meets the eye. Can friendship and skill with a gun overcome a pernicious villain and green-eyed jealousy? Written by
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I saw Appaloosa last night. Absolutely fantastic. Whether it is because he is a bit older I don't know, but Ed Harris obviously actually understands westerns.
A straightforward western tale with very little revisionism, with real men doing "what men have to do". The sense of space, the wish to be part of civilization, the bad men resisting that encroachment, the sense of the mythic; it was all there.
A little bit more modern in approach than a classic 50's tale, particularly in how Renée Zellwegger's character developed, but a real story nevertheless; good guys, bad guys. Jeremy Irons is very good as the baddie. Timothy Spall is good comic relief and Ed Harris and Vigo Mortensen a terrific pair, carefully nurturing their relationship while understanding exactly what they have to do.
The pace was very good, allowing the story and character to develop properly. Even so, it could have and should have been shorter - John Ford, or more likely Anthony Mann would have got through this story in about 90 minutes, but very satisfying nevertheless.
Costner did a pretty good job on Open Range (that was really miles too long), 3:10 to Yuma was pathetic (why they bothered to remake it when the makers so totally misunderstood the thrust of the original I will never know).
But this was the real deal, or at least as near to the real deal as we are ever likely to get nowadays. Too bad it will disappear without a trace.
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