The Horsetrailers and the Pommies vs. the Boches and Ataturk at Beersheba. Wincer’s long-lens-and-zoom looks to have profited from Hitchcock and Frankenheimer for swift nuances of character.
It’s a fine, delicate instrument, affording a sight of the line of cavalry advancing that’s rich in details; then the charge commences, and the instantaneous tensile registration of the flat-out attack is a shift of gears that doesn’t lose control.
The mêlée gets up a Welles bit of intercutting on action in an equable series of rapid shots.
Frederic Remington is the be-all and end-all of this, the title signifies “a little fart of a town in Texas”, McMurtry & Wittliff and Wincer cover most of the West, a scene or two on the prairies have every attribute but the painter’s signature.
All the cowboys, whores and everything in-between fit into the scale of an impressionistic survey that is most eminently comical. Augustus dying above a saloon sends the doctor down with twenty dollars for the whore playing Chopin and whom he has never seen, “she studied music in Philadelphia,” says the whiskey-drinking doctor, “and she’s consumptive.” Cowboys spare their only garb to ford a river naked on horseback a thousand miles from Eakins, herding cattle.
Indulgences are granted for satires of “The Gambler” and Little House on the Prairie that work out the fabric with a strand of Huston’s Moulin Rouge very distantly applied or the ferne Geliebte.
This all works out again variously on the screen as full-portraits and half-portraits and crowd scenes conveyed in action. Absent is the painter, only deduced from his representations.
Variations on a theme in Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (and Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch), with Tom Selleck as a Frederic Remington cowpoke striking a tone not seen since Glenn Corbett’s Pat Garrett in McLaglen’s Chisum, perhaps, cp. that director’s The Shadow Riders.
Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles
The great Crocodile Dundee is discovered sitting in a tree overhanging the stream, for all the world like a kookaburra with nothing in particular to laugh about, by a mate of his paddling along in the midst of nowhere.
MATE: Wha’cha doin’?
DUNDEE: Sittin’ he-uh.
DUNDEE: Croak ate moy bayou’t.
MATE: Whot croak?
DUNDEE: Thet one.
He points at the pink maw snapping down on his mate’s little craft as the fellow scrambles up the tree in one second, the boat disappears, and Crocodile Dundee and his mate are discovered sitting in a tree overhanging the stream.
So much, roughly, for the opener (then tourists arrive).
His sheila is called to L.A. on a newspaper job, Dundee goes to a press party and works in Hollywood as a bumptious extra, there he finds a plot to steal paintings from Belgrade under cover of location shooting and NATO bombing (cf. Mel Smith’s Bean, Philip Kaufman’s Rising Sun).