Paint Your Wagon Reviews
Watch just to see lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood sing!
Clint Eastwood is a pacifist. Lee Marvin is a bawdy rough gold miner with strong loyalties.
Clint doesn't give his alleged movie name till the end; until then he is known as 'Partner', in various pronunciations.
Ray Walston is a hoot as Mad Jack, an Irish gold miner.
Clint, Lee and Ray all sing and actually do well. None of them are operatic voices but they do entertain.
Harve Presnell, as Hard Luck Willie, sings a wonderful version of 'They call the Wind Maria'
All in all it is a great, though very unusual, musical. Stick through the slow and enjoy the humor.
I first knew of this Broadway musical from covers done by (of all people) The Smothers Brothers. "They Call the Wind Maria" & "I talk to the Trees". I have no doubt that the stage version was much better.
While Marvin had proven his comedy chops (as Eastwood would in later years), neither has ever been known for their musical talent. I can't really add "for good reason" since Eastwood has since become known as a decent jazz pianist & aficionado. A shame that "The Pardner" didn't play pie-aney instead of the guitar. Suffice it to say that in 1969 singing should have been at the bottom of their list of talents. Harve Presnell's fabulous ability to carry a tune almost seems out of place until we remember his character's talents within the film. However since this film is about mountain men & an untamed wilderness, their untrained vocal talents seem to fit - & this film is worth watching.
Pay attention to excellent performances by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Ray Walston, & Benny Baker - who reminds me of a guy I used to work with.
This film has some clever moments. For instance, the number, "There's a Coach Coming In," essentially a kind of founding of Rome moment when Ben Rumson and others steal a stagecoach of French prostitutes, fixes the problem of representing the history of sexual labor in the overwhelmingly male mining camps of the California gold rush. Teaching the reality of this historical moment in the mining camps can be difficult as it demands from students a fundamental paradigm shift and a disinterested interest in both prostitution as a job and gendered, domestic labor as a lucrative money maker and rare luxury. The film uses the number in a way not unlike what Richard Dyer describes, to dissolve our interest in the not-so-unsavory yet nonetheless unsavory reality of 19th century sexual labor and put us into the shoes of a bunch of sex-starved, westering dudes: utopia can sometimes look like prostitutes. In this scene, the economic stakes of prostitution are shown in competition, and the wild but bridled stallions of unbridled horniness at the head of the cavalcade knock down a perfume vendor who sees the women as new consumers in the fledgling economy of the muddy little mining town.
Of course this isn't the best film. However, it is still a pretty good film.