Sunday, 27 January 2013

No.66 : The Bravados

The Bravados on IMDb
Gregory Peck and Joan Collins are the unlikely stars of this 1958 colour western.

Peck plays Jim Douglas, a rancher with revenge in mind. We open with him approaching a small town and being warned off by a guard - the sheriff don’t want no strangers in town, see. Despite this warm welcome Peck finagles his way in after the sheriff marks him down as a pervert with a thing for hangings. The small town is having a four man hanging event the next day and all they need is the travelling hangman to show up so the show can go ahead.

Peck offers to help out but is soon boozing in the bar with Joan Collins. Collins looking well senior of her actual 25 years at the time of filming is an old flame of Peck's and is disappointed to hear that he’s married with a child. Slowly we learn that our man is a widower and that the four men due to be hung are those he has marked as responsible. With the hangman now arrived things should go smoothly - but wait! While the townsfolk, including a reluctant Peck, are at church the bogus hangman springs the four bad guys and the chase is on.

Peck organises the posse and soon they start to catch up with the felons. The bad guys make the classic mistake of splitting up, and it doesn’t take long for the remorseless Peck to thin their number to one. Can he put to rest his demons, and are his motivations just and indeed correct?

This is an enjoyable western that doesn’t attempt to do anything new with the genre. The jail break and chase are all you’d expect with some brutality from Peck notwithstanding. His moral ambiguity towards the end is in sharp counterpoint to the cheering townsfolk who care little about what exactly the bad guys did just as long as they did something.

Peck is excellent as the driven Douglas and looks to be doing his own stunt riding and lasso work. He cuts a mean figure in black and he’s pretty no nonsense with the pleading bad guys. His mask slips towards the end as the doubts set in but at least he’s rewarded with the lovely Joan who seems very keen.

Joan’s character is ill defined and it’s not clear if she’s meant to be American or English - or indeed Spanish as she shows up for church in a red flamenco dress. Her acting is consistent throughout - consistently awful that is. She doesn’t convince at any level and looks like a refugee from a make up commercial who wandered on set. Her emotions go from ‘Just let them go’ to ‘Kill them all’ in literally one scene and it’s not hard to see why her career floundered for many years, until she started taking her clothes off.

Of the remaining cast there wasn’t a lot standing out apart from a young Lee Van Cleef who wasn’t quite at his moustache twirling best. The horny escapee didn’t convince nor did their purty hostage who did little more than scream a lot.

The locations were fantastic and used to great effect in some panning shots that showed the difficulties the trackers faced.

The big reveal at the end was signalled from the off but if you watch this as a simple ‘posse’ film you’ll enjoy it, although I doubt it will stay long in the memory.

THE Tag Line - Kill ‘em all and let God sort them out - 68%


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