Jim Kane is a loser cowboy in Nogales, Arizona.He has more good nature than good sense and often takes jack-of-all-trades jobs. His bank loans are jeopardized when his latest horse purchase is a bust. His horses are quarantined with STD. Jim is broke. The local hotel clerk sympathetic about his situation lets him live in the hotel maid's room for free. His ex-wife goes gentle on him when he cannot make the alimony payments. Jim turns down his uncle's offer of a job but accepts a deal to buy cattle in Mexico for a shady businessman who has a bad reputation. Jim travels to Mexico where he teams up with another loser, an old friend by the name of Leonard, who moved to Mexico in order to pursue one of his many failed get-rich-quick schemes. The two amigos set out to buy Mexican cattle from various local ranchers but they experience difficulties and soon run into trouble.Written by
The movie's publicity still with Paul Newman and Lee Marvin was photographed by British photographer Terry O'Neill and also appears on the jacket of O'Neill's 2003 compilation coffee-table book "Celebrity". In the book O'Neill recounts how when he arrived on the set to shoot his publicity stills, Lee Marvin was hungover and in a foul mood. Most of the production personnel were steering clear of him. When O'Neill gingerly approached Marvin and introduced himself, Marvin asked, "Are you English?" What O'Neill didn't know at the time was that Marvin was a lifelong Anglophile--he LOVED the British. After that brief encounter, Marvin's mood changed and, according to O'Neill, he couldn't have been more cooperative for the rest of his assignment. See more »
It ain't easy down here, Jim. You got to fight tooth and nail.
I'll fight... I just don't wanna fight here.
[slaps the money into Leonard's hand]
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This film is not as bad as the previous reviewer would have you believe. It just takes a different kind of mindset to enjoy it--you have to like nonlinearality. You have to be in a relaxed, maybe even coming-down-off-a-jag state of mind to appreciate its structure.
Paul Newman, affable as always in the lead, is not placed in any of the more familiar predictable, and simplistic predicaments cited by my colleague ( though, if anything, "character study" would come the closest to describing this film).
But, instead of an "easy" situation--the kind that makes us smug to be able to identify quickly--in this picture Newman battles ineffectually against a more subtle and insidious malaise, one not often focused on in film in this manner. Its a common problem--something we all deal with at one time or another--its that type of confidence-effacing, will-sapping, ego-draining personal economic debt that for many adults never really seems to go away.
Just like the rest of us, Newman's simply got an ego that wants to assert itself--but at every turn he's being strung up by the short-and-curlies due to lack of $$. He keeps trying however. Still, we see that throughout the film, each new situation somehow gets away from him and leaves him with nothing to show for his troubles. He's just too nice a guy to come out a winner.
He always needs more money than he's got and it affects everything he does--prevents him from really enjoying what might be an otherwise pleasant life. In the end he's forced to face that:
1) his troubles are maybe never going to be conquerable,
2) there will be a lot more (of the same kind of humiliation he's undergone all throughout the movie)throughout the rest of his life, and 3) despite this, there are still some dividends in life that make things easier to bear, like having a best friend, a car that runs, or just having enough money in your pocket to get a Coke.
Its true the movie has an unsatisfying conclusion--the very human plot in this film just doesnt have a happy resolution, (coincidentally, just the way real-life problems dont work out, what a concept for a film, right?).
But the hangdog ending, just like the rest of the film, is somehow difficult to forget. It has such an unusual, low-key pace and rhythm that it really stays with you. I have seen it come up at least 4-5 times on the late show and never been displeased--its rather like seeing an old friend.
Dont dismiss it--its a movie that can cheer you up under the right circumstances.
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