Friday, December 10, 2010

The Unseen #53: The Good Guys And The Bad Guys

Why’d I Buy It?: Came In The Robert Mitchum Boxset I Purchased (Last One Of These)

Why Haven’t I Watched It?: I’ve always heard it was kind of a piece of shit.

How Was It?: Funnily enough it was kind of a piece of shit.

That being said I always find it tough to be hard on the shitty movies of days of yore. Even a movie like this which I got virtually no enjoyment out of, has a sort of base line to it absent in today’s abominably bad cinema. The Good Guys And The Bad Guys is a movie because someone had an idea, convinced other people to make the idea and then shot the film. Now why that idea doesn’t work can be chalked up to various factors. Factors like the fact that despite it bills itself as a comedy it is never really funny, or seems to be especially trying to be. Or the fact that it saddles itself with an overbearing and fucking terrible folk score that narrates the action as obtrusively as possible (Imagine that Altman had wished for The McCabe And Ms. Miller score on The Monkey’s Paw and you’re halfway there). But one of those factors wasn’t that the film was market tested and demographed to within an inch of its life. And thus even in its awfulness has a certain organicness to its nature that prevents it from passing the last event horizon into truly unredeemable dreadful.

The Good Guys and Bad Guys, stars Robert Mitchum and George Kennedy as the titular Guys. They both sleepwalk through the film. Relying so heavily on their schtick that it’s a genuine surprise it doesn’t crack under their weight. They’re old cowboys who done outlived their time and run smack into the modern age. Why Mitchum even has to run the whores out of town!

Mitchum can't get any of the townspeople to believe him, or get all that upset when he tells them that Kennedy his old nemesis is riding into town for a robbery. He's unceremoniously retired, but goes out to stop Kennedy on his own, only to find that Kennedy has been similarly ejected from his gang of young guns.

This might all seem very poignant until you realize, shit The Fucking Wild Bunch (official title) was released that same year. This is not how you tell this story. David Carradine brings some life to it as a character meant to represent a new vicious breed of outlaw. But even he seems just kind of put out more then anything.

The film was directed by Burt Kennedy, whose just one of those guys who always turning up. As a writer he’s responsible for some of the finest Westerns ever written, including most of Budd Boeticher’s. Stuff like Seven Men From Now, The Tall T and also Clint Eastwood’s underrated White Hunter Black Heart. His career as a director is a good deal spottier. He’s responsible for the not “good”, but kind of interesting Raquel Welch revenge flick Hannie Caulder, Support Your Local Sheriff and the woefully misbegotten initial adaptation of The Killer Inside Me. He’s also made the immortally titled Dirty Dingus McGee (Starring Frank Sinatra!)

What’s the point of this? Only that Kennedy had more interesting ways to spend his time and so do you. Not everyone of the above movies is great, or even good. But they all do more then just sit there. Which is all The Good Guys And The Bad Guys does.


Peter Lenihan said...

(Burt) Kennedy also made a western with Henry Fonda and Aldo Ray among others called Welcome To Hard Times. It's a very strange film and worth looking up, especially for Fonda's very uncharacteristic performance. Completely agreed on his qualities as a writer, his Boetticher collaborations are as good as the movies get.

Bryce Wilson said...

Agreed. I love the Tall T and as far as I'm concerned Seven Men From Now is one of the best revenge movies period.

Thanks for the heads up on Hard Times. I'll definitely look it up.