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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I see the IMDb lists this as a stand alone documentary, but this was
aired in the UK as part of the excellent "Man Alive" series, which was
a current affairs documentary strand that ran for many years in the
60's, 70's and 80's.
I saw this once, as a child nearly forty years ago, so memory is a little scratchy but I remember Plimpton arriving on set, interviewing a number of the cast and crew and being invited to take part in the actual movie. He seemed concerned about remembering his one line ("I got a warrant here for you sheriff") and strangely about his accent had he spent time in Europe to lose his American accent? It was also an issue for him how he was going to die, and received a deal of advice from the other supporting actors in the movie as to how to act it. I specifically remember him being told to keep his eyes open and to fall against a wall, and I see that now appears as one of his quotes in his biog. It may be that he adopted the advice as his own after this documentary and appearance.
Another highlight in the Doco was the large number of takes it took to deliver the line "Hey you in the jail, I got a message for you but don't wanna get myself killed doing it" It ran into the forty's before the actor got it right, but nobody really cared, it was that kind of a set. Wayne was charming and avuncular, and the supporting actors were a real fraternity. It's no wonder Wayne surrounded himself with them.
Inter-cut with these interviews, was Plimpton's struggle to learn his lines - which they changed at the last minute, as well as his delivery which was thought to be wooden. In fact they threatened to drop him at one point which threw him into a panic. Eventually though the whole thing went ahead, although the death scene wasn't quite what he'd hoped. He was wired into a harness and pulled back to simulate the impact of a bullet and thrown against the wall.
I wonder if this still exists? It is a glimpse into the world of films and westerns that surely doesn't exist any more. Worth a look if you can get to see it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw "Plimpton! Shoot-out at Rio Lobo" when it aired originally on
prime-time television back in the 1970s. Bestselling author George
Plimpton liked to sample another men's professions by taking
participating in it. Previously, Plimpton had spent time in the NFL
Detroit Lions football camp, and Alan Alda impersonated him in the film
"Paper Lion". Here, Plimpton is Plimpton, and he provides some amusing
commentary about his exploitss as a western villain on the Tucson movie
set of director Howard Hawks' last western with John Wayne. Recently, I
obtained a bootleg copy of this program at the Memphis Film Festival,
and it was in pretty good shape for something that was produced over 30
years ago. Plimpton somehow got cast as one of four villains that throw
down on John Wayne in the movie. Plimpton plays a despicable lawman who
sneaks in from the rear of the hotel where his cohorts have gotten the
drop on Wayne and actress Jennifer O'Neil. When the sheriff demands an
arrest warrant from the bad guy lawmen from a different town, Plimpton
brandishes a Winchester repeating rifle and enters the scene. He stands
to one side of a seated John Wayne. Plimpton spent a week memorizing
his line while trying to dispose of his obvious Harvard accent. When
they are about to shoot the scene, director Howard Hawks altered it,
much to Plimpton's chagrin. Wayne snatches the rifle away from the
villainous Plimpton, slams it into his nose and sends him reeling to
the floor. Plimpton recovers momentarily and pulls his six-shooter.
Another character bounds into view and shoots him. This time Plimpton
"Plimpton! Shoot-out at Rio Lobo" ranks as an impressive, 50-minute documentary that furnishes insights into the film business, Howard Hawks, John Wayne, and other movie actors. Plimpton takes use through everything and points out how a mere few minutes of a scene employed as many as 200 people. We get to see our lead interact with Hawks and Wayne. A running gag recurs with Wayne mispronouncing Plimpton's name. The humor is wonderful and it is fun watching Wayne talk about his memories with a dialogue director. Presumably, copyright woes must have kept the studio from including this as an extra in the special features. This isn't the usual lame documentary. Plimpton doesn't short change us on anything. He provides background about Wayne and Hawks that hardcore Wayne and Hawks fans could enjoy. Since I have read a great deal about Hawks, I can tell you that his line about cutting people out of a movie wasn't a lie. The relationship between Hawks and actress Jennifer O'Neil soured during the production and he wrote her out of the finale. Great documentary.
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