The Outrage Reviews
A Hollywood adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon". Three men meet at a deserted station in the middle of nowhere. Soon their discussion turns to the trial that occurred in the nearby town the previous say. The trial concerned the death of a man. Three people claim they killed him, and we see their version of the events. Who is correct and why are two of them (at least...) lying?
From the outset there is a degree of unnecessary complexity about the script. The script is overly wordy, almost to the point of being Shakespearean, and feels padded. The plot is quite interesting but as it goes on it becomes less and less plausible, and feels complex just for the sake of it. Soon the holes appear, none of which are filled in by the end of the movie.
After a point the implausibility and complexity have descended into farce. The last few scenes are quite silly and ultimately you're left wondering what the point was and even possibly what the story was...
The casting provides some interesting appearances. Paul Newman puts in a good, almost over-the-top, performance as the Mexican bandit. William Shatner is there, as a preacher (two years later Star Trek started...). Edward G Robinson gets the role of the verbose swindler (he is largely responsible for my "Shakespearean" comment). Laurence Harvey and Claire Bloom put in reasonably solid performances as the married couple.
To be honest, even though many regard Rashomon as a classic, I don't. The plot for The Outrage demonstrates why Rashomon is overrated.
A reverend at a train station is approached by a stranger. The stranger asks him what he is doing, and the reverend tells him a tale of murder, victims, and outrage by the locals. The murder was so heinous, he has decided to stop following his faith and leave the town. The stranger asks for all of the details of the murder so he can try to understand what acts could be so bad for a reverend to lose his faith and direction.
"People see what they want to see and say what they want to hear."
Martin Ritt, director of Hud, Hombre, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, Nuts, Norma Rae, The Great White Hope (1970), Paris Blues, and The Black Orchid, delivers The Outrage. The storyline for this picture is very methodical but contains brilliant subplots, character development, and wonderful dialogue. The acting is remarkable and the cast includes Paul Newman, William Shatner, Laurence Harvey, Edward Robinson, and Claire Bloom.
"All four of them lied."
The Outrage was a movie I had to DVR since it starred the great Paul Newman. I was shocked he was playing a Hispanic man and his performances actually reminded me of Marlon Brando's performance in The Teahouse of the August Moon. This is an awesome movie that comes together perfectly in the end. I strongly recommend seeing this underrated gem and potentially adding it to your DVD collection. This is definitely a first rate thriller.
"I don't murder. I kill."
All of the actors are very good. Paul Newman, Claire Bloom, and Lawrence Harvey carried the action well. I dont think P Newman ever made a bad performance in a film. The action is limited by the staging. The story is interesting. But, I was not drawn into the action. Watching it seemed more like an archeological enterprise. RASHOMON is a much better movie.
It was an OK time w/ the flics.
Outrage transplants a Western motif - samurai becomes former Confederate colonel, channeling medium becomes Indian medicine-man, Japanese bandit becomes Mexican bandito. Perhaps more palatable to American theatre-goers, but the migration muddles.
Rashomon's a much better fit with historical elements of Japanese culture such as samurai legend, kabuki and face-saving of honor. What Southern belle would ask her husband to kill her so he wouldn't be dishonored by the shame of her being raped?
More importantly, Rashomon's innovative cinematography is mostly missing here. Kurosawa broke the 180-degree rule as the witness walks into the forest to intentionally disorient the viewer. And defied convention by shooting straight into the sun, up through the thick canopy of trees. Both done to convey entry into another world. He swings the camera 270 degrees, pivoting on a face, more than once. Kurosawa shot B&W, creating incredible visuals. Faces, simultaneously covered with shadows of leaves and mirrored natural sunlight, symbolize the co-existence of good and evil in men. Kurosawa employed left-to-right wipes for certain transitions, unseen in Outrage. Kurosawa's evocative facial close-ups, where every single drop of sweat looks precision-placed, probably inspired Sergio Leone. And Rashomon's the first use of flashback as device; in fact, Kurosawa actually employed flashback inside flashback.
Outrage is all-but-forgotten due to such directorial shortcomings; ask even an avid film fan when Edward G. Robinson played a snake-oil salesman or Paul Newman played a Mexican bandito and see just how forgotten it is.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've seen Rashomon, take a pass. If not, spin them both as double-bill - and see how great direction can easily trump great acting.