Comments and questions off the top of my head:
>I really appreciated the way the film seems unconcerned about genres. It moves from comedy, gritty drama and coming-of-age tale—in a way that is subtle and unselfconscious. I really liked this quality—but it might have hurt the film a bit, too, by not giving the film enough focus.
>Barry Brown and Jeff Bridges just didn’t quite work for me—both individually and in terms of the chemistry they had together. (On a side note, was it just me, or does Barry Brown look like Ryan Gosling?) I tink this is the main reason the film didn’t entirely work for me.
>Liked the cinematography. Is it really hard to shoot films with natural light or less light? I like films that are shot this way, and I wonder if people don’t do this more often because it’s too difficult.
>Liked the simple piano score.
I love Bad Company. One of the lesser known acid westerns of the 1970s. It’s a subgenre I like quite a lot though. Yeah, like many of these films, I imagine one’s appreciation of the film hinges on the performances and the character interactions. To me, they worked beautifully together. Barry Brown was a great actor. His suicide was a big loss for film.
I too love this movie…it’s different. Oliver Twist in Civil War America
What exactly is an “acid Western?”
i haven’t seen the film in years but i’ve never forgotten it. i’m glad u checked it out jazz and happy to see it has other fans here. if i remember rightly, i’m the one who submitted it so i could put it in my westerns list :P i wonder how i managed to leave barry brown out of the cast list. he didn’t make many films. i’m gonna fix that now
Always liked Bad Company but it has been a long time since I saw it. I’ve been meaning to give it another look. Last week I watched Benton’s The Late Show for the first in many, many years and was pleased to see how well it stood up (only Lily Tomlin’s performance was a bit of disappointing. I remember liking it a lot more at the time, now it seems a little shrill).
Pretty good film . . . a little too much Bonnie and Clyde (which Benton and Newman had written for Arthur Penn five years earlier) transposed to a different era, perhaps.
Bonnie and Clyde never came to mind, but there is an obvious connection. Still, I think there were key differences—e.g., they weren’t cold-blooded; they robbed more out of necessity, than some thrill-seeking, “joy-riding” impulses, imo—and the similarities weren’t really a problem for me.
I really liked The Late Show, but I haven’t seen it in a long time.
“robbed . . . out of necessity”
It emphasizes that aspect a bit more perhaps, by in Bonnie and Clyde it’s clear that there’s necessity (in the form of the Great Depression) as well. I was thinking more in terms of the way it’s structured and the fact that it’s a period outlaw film that tries to be very “current” in it’s use of violence.
This, from Benton, is interesting as context:
“I had conceived of Bad Company in the spirit of those Anthony Mann Westerns with Jimmy Stewart and Arthur Kennedy; you know, where the men were friends when they were younger, probably on the wrong side of the law, but now one of them has gone straight and the other has remained a criminal. Well, I wanted to do a kind of prequel, a movie about those same men when they were young. So when I cast Barry I was looking for a young Jimmy Stewart. However, when he (came in), he started talking about Montgomery Clift. I kept saying “Jimmy Stewart.” He kept saying “Montgomery Clift.” So I went to David Newman and said, "Here’s the first important monologue the character has; write it so that if Daffy Duck did the part he would sound like Jimmy Stewart. David did a wonderful job, and when I gave the pages to Barry, he read them and said, “You’ve won.” Now, I used to think that was an amusing story, but the truth is, I never really gave him a proper chance. With hindsight, my guess is he was closer to being right than I was."
_…by in Bonnie and Clyde it’s clear that there’s necessity (in the form of the Great Depression) as well. _
But that part is downplayed, though—I got the sense they’re robbing and killing for kicks.
Re: Jimmy Stewart
The dialogue and the Barry Brown’s acting in these “Jimmy Stewart” moments didn’t work so well with me. The acting just seemed a bit affected. The filmmakers might have wanted a tinge of the comedic in these moments, but that didn’t work so well with me, either. (But again, I appreciated the attempt.)
“I got the sense they’re robbing and killing for kicks.”
Well, yeah, Robert Towne, if I remember the story correctly rewrote the screenplay to suggest that Clyde was impotent (the implication being that violent behavior was an alternative way of satisfying his libido or some such).But the screenplay for Bonnie and Clyde was definitely more self-consciously Nouvelle Vague-y than is Bad Company.
A very nice effort that didn’t quite work
I felt the same way and I think a lot of Benton’s films fall in that category. He is kind of like the Stone Temple Pilots of 1970’s film directors: Yeah, they were pretty good and all, but they weren’t really improving on anything that wasn’t done before. (To further this analogy: Arthur Penn is Pearl Jam, Francis Ford Coppola is Nirvana, and Sam Peckinpah is Alice in Chains.)
I haven’t seen all of his movies and would be happy to be proven wrong. I’m still kind of mad at him though for messing up yet another EL Doctorow novel with Billy Bathgate, which seemed tailor made for a great 1970-80’s film director.