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 Eighty Nine: Paint Your Wagon


John and Todd, two of my 12 Westerns team, have been bugging me about watching this film for months now. I’ve always resisted it, I think mainly because of the title and presentation of the DVD cover which make the movie look like cheesy, family-friendly musical. It does not hint at all at the rowdy, raunchy film that this really is, one that should never have been titled Paint Your Wagon, an awful name for this story which is ultimately about getting laid!

I would have titled the film, The Wandering Star, which is also the best musical number in the whole picture, the only one that really captures the internal mood of its characters. Like most musicals with rare exceptions, I wanted to cut at least half the songs, especially the solo Eastwood numbers.

Though I may sound like I’m complaining about this movie, I am actually quite fond of it. I love the interplay between Lee and Clint. I love the size of the production, truly a Hollywood spectacle showcased in the set and shots. Most of all, I love the rowdiness I mentioned earlier with highlights on the town dance and the wedding, so chaotic they’re not far from fitting in a Mad Max film. Those sequences astonished this filmmaker and made me want to create something with as much frantic energy.

The movie does go on a little long. If it was a Howard Hawks film from the 1940s, it would have ended before intermission with our heroine taking on two husbands. That would have been a tight comedic masterpiece, however I do like many moments from the journey that comes in the second half, especially the concluding notes of the story.

Again, I think the presentation of this Western musical is all wrong but I’m happy I finally got over that and gave it a watch.

Seen on DVD.