Nun Sara (Shirley MacLaine) is on the run in Mexico and is saved from cowboys by Hogan (Clint Eastwood), who is preparing for a future mission to capture a French fort. The pair become good friends, but Sara never does tell him the true reason behind her being outlawed.
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>
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 »
"Gotta Dream Boy, Gotta A Song, Paint Your Wagon, And Come Along"
Unfortunately Paint Your Wagon came at a time when big budget musicals were going out of vogue. The expenses of this film nearly bankrupted Paramount and it was many years before the studio recouped its investment. Another big Broadway hit from the same era, Finian's Rainbow also came to the big screen a few years earlier and bombed at the box office.
Paint Your Wagon ran 289 performances for the 1951-1952 season on Broadway. Daring in its time, Paint Your Wagon had an interracial love theme. That was too tame for the newly liberated silver screen from the Code and here we have a woman, Jean Seberg, marrying two gold miners, Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. This might be the first story on screen about polyandry unless you count Noel Coward's Design for Living and that was a heavily censored version.
Listening to Lee Marvin it sounds like an eminently practical arrangement. Lee saves Clint Eastwood after a fall and nurses him back to health and he makes him a partner. Then he 'buys' at auction Jean Seberg who is the second wife of passing Mormon John Mitchum.
Since Clint's a partner in everything, sharing a wife seems a sensible arrangement. Lee's character Ben Rumson has some very interesting ideas on morality, especially morality out in the wilds. You'll have to see Paint Your Wagon to hear him explain his views.
Jean Seberg's voice is dubbed by Anita Gordon, but Eastwood and Marvin do their own numbers. For Marvin, he does it in the tradition of Rex Harrison and Richard Burton in those other Lerner and Loewe musicals and it comes off nicely. Clint Eastwood's many talents do not include singing however.
But as it turned out Paint Your Wagon needed all the help it could get at the box office. They could have cast a singer in Clint's part, but where was there on who could play the role, be the right age, and bring in the dollars. By 1969 there really was no such male singer in Hollywood. Probably in the fifties someone like Gordon MacRae or Howard Keel might have done it then.
The comedy is pretty raucous from Lee Marvin's original ideas on sex to the whole town caving in because of all the mine tunnels beneath. Paint Your Wagon holds up well and it's not as bad a film as has come down by reputation. It might be painful for Clint Eastwood fans to hear him sing though.
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