Tom Logan is a horse thief. Rancher David Braxton has horses, and a daughter, worth stealing. But Braxton has just hired Lee Clayton, an infamous “regulator”, to hunt down the horse thieves; one at a time.
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Despite the presence of Arthur Penn, New Hollywood royalty himself, at the helm, and two stars of unquestionably major power (star power and high performance in general), to me the real star of THE MISSOURI BREAKS is screenwriter (and novelist, short story writer) Thomas McGuane. This is lithe living language of the Montana frontier, and nobody sets such language in play quite like McGuane. This bastard sings, baby.
Moving at a polio-ridden snail's pace, this baroque western really tests the notion that hindsight determines what is art & what isn't. Nevertheless, the performances of Jack Nicholson and espcially Marlon Brando are the reason to see this.
The film is a fascinating one, if you care to reflect on it. Yet, critics dismissed it when it was released. My full analysis appears at http://moviessansfrontiers.blogspot.in/2012/08/131-us-director-arthur-penns-missouri.html
Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments ever created. A little bit enjoyable but when you see as stars Brando, Nicholson, Randy Quaid, Harry Dean Stanton and Frederic Forrest, all directed by Arthur Penn, you gotta hope for more. Too bad it didn't delivered in the measure we needed.