Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"Lonely are the Brave" with Kirk Douglas and Gena Rowlands (1962)

Kirk Douglas has described this film as being amongst his favorites. The story takes place in the modern day west of the early 1960’s. The Wild West had been long gone by that time, but sometimes people are unwilling, or even unable, to change with the times. Jack Burns, played by Kirk Douglas, is such a man. Riding his horse across the freeway is just one of the many ways he chooses to show his pure contempt for the modern world with its myriad of rules and excess regulations. He carries no identification, has no driver’s license, no military record, and as a matter of fact; if he weren’t standing before you; he officially would not exist.

But when he sets out in order to get arrested so that he can break his friend out of jail, he finds that though his spirit for the fight has not diminished over the years, the fight has become harder than it ever was. With all of these fences and signs and rules, a man could lose his most valuable asset; himself.

When his friend Paul Bondi; played by Michael Kane; decides to stick out his final 2 years in prison, Jack breaks out without him, igniting a manhunt which includes the Sheriff; played with great sympathy by Walter Matthau; and also the Deputy Sheriff; viciously portrayed by George Kennedy.

Throughout the movie Paul Bondi’s wife, Jerry; played by Gena Rowlands in stretch pants; is on the sidelines, rooting for her husband’s best friend, while reviling the modern world which cannot accept an individual for what he is.

In the end, when justice is served, the viewer has to wonder what justice really is. Is it just a set of rules which must be followed at all costs? And, does the crime of being true to oneself, and a set of values, ever justify squashing the individual spirit? Reminiscent in many ways of “Cool Hand Luke”, which also featured George Kennedy, and even “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, this film will stay with you long after you have watched the ending credits. 

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