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.
Unfocused, miscalculated and poorly written frontier film wasting the talents of both cast and crew. Brando gives one his later histrionic performances and seems to be in a totally different film than anyone else. Nicholson really not much better in the miscast department here, only Harry Dean Stanton comes off well in a showier performance than norm. Final campfire scene memorable for rich lighting and framing.
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.