A western like no other, One-Eyed Jacks combines the mythological scope of that most American of film genres with the searing naturalism of a performance by Marlon Brando—in his only directing stint, and still one of his great achievements—all suffused with Freudian overtones and male anxiety.
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Gained a lot from the restoration and from having seen 'Listen to Me Marlon'. There are layers to this beyond the obvious and Oedipal. Fascinating too is the way it almost subtlety subverts the genre at every turn, just enough to surprise but not so much that you raise your guard and see the next shift coming.
Maybe seeing the five-hour cut would fix this, but the romance falls apart for me once it becomes sincere.
As his sole directorial effort, this speaks volumes about Brando - that's saying something for an actor who so frequently depicted his own inner conflicts. Noble + brutal, wounded + wounding, someone working to manifest their cynical view of human relationships. The 4K restoration is sumptuous (the sandstorm), the psychology is raw and lived-in, giving it a tragic tone that perhaps exists beyond the screen.
Well, I think this is one of the greatest movies ever made, but I think that it is important for me to concede that I feel this way because I like to get down w/ a hot mess. We are essentially dealing w/ a radical incursion into genre, natch. Radical because what is unleashed is muddy, anarchic, and even slightly aberrant human pathology. I find it easy to become obsessed w/ women. I'm now obsessed w/ Pina Pellicer.
If I were a professional critic, I would examine certain themes that are going through One-Eyed Jacks like the Freudian-Oedipian theme (Dad, Kid, etc..), the lies of Rio and the reason why cartridges do have such a big importance in the movie. Highly recommended.
Stanley Kubrick originally was going to direct this, but he ended up making Lolita so Marlon Brando look over. This is the only film he ever directed, but it remains one of the greatest westerns of all time. If there's one film that desperately needs to be criterioned, it's this.
Brando emphasises small poetic details; allowing his story to become lost, derail & grind to a thundering halt. Conflicts go unresolved, plot points occur at random & the whole things takes a variety of awkward tonal shifts. Instead the spaces are filled with breathtaking sandstorms, crashing waves & desolate landscapes; all of which add to & punctuate the film's sensitive melodrama & its bursts of pitiless violence.
A great actor proves to be a not-bad director. OEJ is so famed for its troubled production history and many screenwriters that the result is surprisingly coherent: it's a solid western, never boring even at 140 minutes. Malden is intense and, faint praise though it may be, Brando's accent is more convincing than De Niro's in Cape Fear. The only real disappointment is that, with the ending, it's just another western.
Classical Western + Modern Actor = Interesting Film
It's fascinating to see Brando's physicality and emotionality in a film like this (I should watch more of his early work), but One Eyed-Jacks still lacks a little shape and fluidity. It would have been especially interesting to see what Kubrick would have done with this genre and this actor.