Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of making my own 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 Forty One: Angel and the Badman
It’s been harder to watch Westerns this year than I thought it would be. How it took me two weeks to complete this 100 minute movie, I don’t know… How it took me this long to see the Wayne classic, I don’t know either…
It’s no masterwork but I see why the film has held its reputation in the Western genre discussion. Wayne is damn good in it, showing again the fine actor he was in the most simple ways. The story is undeniably entertaining, at least for its first two thirds. I was underwhelmed by the last part of the picture from the stampede on. Before that, I felt like I was watching something I hadn’t quite seen before in a Western (though I’d seen it somewhere else, more on that in a bit) but in the final forty minutes, the film really starts to play by the numbers. We’ve got the aforementioned stampede, the bar room brawl, the almost romance with a working girl, the wagon chase, and of course, the final showdown. I honestly could have done without all of that, far more entertained by life on the farm and Wayne eating pancakes.
Am I the only one who feels like this movie has strong similarities to Witness, the Harrison Ford 80s thriller? At least in its setup, the movies have shared DNA: 1. An outsider, wounded, who is rescued by a religious community. 2. The community is an offshoot of Christianity who are non-violent, Quakers here and Amish in the Peter Weir film. 3. There’s a single woman who is drawn towards this secular man. 4. There’s an impressionable young boy who seeks to be like the newcomer. 5. A father figure takes the hero’s gun away and hides the bullets. 6. Three villains approach the farm, just as three do at the end of Witness.
Of course, the films are super different but I would not be surprised of this one inspired the writer of Witness, consciously or unconsciously. It’s a good enough movie to queue up if you haven’t seen it before but it only makes me long for the great Wayne pictures directed by Ford and Hawks.
Seen on Amazon Prime.