A Michigan farmer and a prospector form a partnership in the California gold country. Their adventures include buying and sharing a wife, hijacking a stage, kidnaping six prostitutes, and turning their mining camp into a boomtown. Along the way there is plenty of drinking, gambling, and singing. They even find time to do some creative gold mining.Written by
David J. Kiseleski <email@example.com>
Clint Eastwood and Jean Seberg had an affair during filming in Baker County, Oregon. Jerry Pam, a publicist for both actors at the time, told Seberg biographer David Richards in 1981: "Once they got back to Paramount, it was as if Clint didn't know who she was. Jean couldn't believe that he could be that indifferent to her, after everything that had gone on in Baker. She was a very vulnerable woman, and it was a terrible trauma for her." At the same time, Eastwood was having yet another affair with one of the extras. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the said extra told Seberg biographer Garry McGee in 2008: "We had an affair for two years. Since I was involved with Clint at the time, he pulled a few strings and got me work on the film." When asked if Seberg knew about Eastwood's other involvement, the woman said, "No. She had no idea." See more »
Soon after Ben, Pardner, and Mad Jack open their secret "gold mine" underneath No Name City, a young farmer is recruited to help dig. To emphasize the need for secrecy, Mad Jack threatens to shove a stick of dynamite in the farmer's mouth if he blabs. The film is set in 1849 or 1850, before California becomes a state. Dynamite wasn't yet invented (it was patented by Alfred Nobel in 1867). See more »
Dearly beloved. We have gathered together to grant this man, Ben Rumson, exclusive title to this woman, Mrs. Elizabeth Woodling, and to all her mineral resources. I have drawn up this Record of Claim which here and henceforth will be recognized as a certificate of marriage. So I ask you Ben, do you recognize this claim as a contract of marriage and do you take this woman to love honor and cherish?
[after long silence]
Oh, he does.
Elizabeth Woodling, do you take this man, Ben Rumson, to love, ...
[...] See more »
After the end credits and the Paramount logo, the screen goes black and a closing medley of the songs is heard for several minutes. See more »
On its release to what were then called "neighborhood theatres" (i.e. theatres which showed films that had ended their first runs downtown), the film's running time was shortened by having three songs eliminated, "I Still See Elisa", "The First Thing You Know", and "Gold Fever". This left both Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood with only one solo song each. The film was restored to its original length for its first television showing, and has remained that way ever since. See more »
Is the movie great? No, but it is a good one. If it were great, it would not suffer from it's long running time. A wider audience would no doubt warm to a shorter version. More is the pity, too, because the movie has much to offer. The scenery is beautiful; the sets reconstructions are first rate. Listen to the lyrics of some of the songs ('Gold Fever' and 'The First Thing You Know' are two good examples) and you can appreciate the wordsmithing skill of Alan Jay Lerner. If you like a large all-male chorus, the film offers some of the best singing of that kind you are likely to hear. Listen especially during 'There's a Coach Coming In'.
I must confess a guilty admiration for characters who are unapologetically amoral and corrupt, at least as defined by 'respectable society'. I wouldn't necessarily want one for a neighbor or even a friend (well .. maybe), but they are fascinating on film or stage. If the film is a comedy, they can be hilarious and often steal the show. All you need is the right actor to fill the role. Paint Your Wagon offers one of the most uproariously amoral characters on film, brought to amazing life by Lee Marvin. He delivers Ben Rumson's imminently quotable home-spun philosophy of life with great relish and comedic timing. Can he sing? No. But then would a somewhat dissipated Gold Rush miner likely be a good singer? His non-singing actually fits.
The rest of the cast is good but not exceptional. Ray Walston is memorable as Mad Jack. I still find it hard to spot the actor I am used to behind the beard and accent. He also has some great lines. Harve Presnell is the only truly major-league singer in the cast and delivers the most memorable song. The remaining actors are adequate. Eastwood is good but replaceable. Jean Seaberg is not Meryl Streep but is certainly easy on the eyes. The townsfolk are solid.
An enjoyable movie, with Lee Marvin's performance worth the price of admission. It is too bad it requires such a long time commitment to experience it all.
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