Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of finishing post and releasing my 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.
Week 108: The White Buffalo
Now this is an odd Western! The whole concept, part horror, part fantasy is definitely ambitious. You could say it feels inspired by Jaws, with a creature causing death and destruction and the three very different men who seek to kill it. And like that Spielberg film, the filmmakers attempt to keep the white buffalo’s appearance shrouded in some mystery. Unlike that classic, the script and tone doesn’t quite come together.
Though I usually like his work and his collaboration with Bronson is undervalued, I believe J. Lee Thompson was the wrong director for this film. It actually needed a more quirky voice to execute its bizarre dynamic, not a trained action-leaning filmmaker. I’m thinking someone like Hal Ashby who so often perfected a haunting, eccentric kind of American storytelling.
Nevertheless, the film that exists is worth watching and has its moments. Warden is always interesting. Clint Walker isn’t in it enough and neither is Novak. Bronson is playing a melancholy gunfighter which I like but again he needed a stronger performance director to really push him to another level.
Daring and uneven, I am glad I finally saw this film.
Watched on Tubi.