Directed by Marlon Brando
Running from the law after a bank robbery in Mexico, Dad Longworth finds an opportunity to take the stolen gold and leave his partner Rio to be captured. Years later, Rio escapes from the prison where he has been since, and hunts down Dad for revenge. Dad is now a respectable sheriff in California, and has been living in fear of Rio's return.
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★★★½ review by Cinemonster on Letterboxd
An unevenly directed and edited film, One-Eyed Jacks shows Marlon Brando at both his best and worst. A lovely unsung performance by Karl Malden and solid cinematography from Charles Lang are the highlights. Supporting cast, including Slim Pickens and Ben Johnson, are also solid. No one takes a beating onscreen like Brando. David Webb Peoples clearly saw this film before writing Unforgiven. Not too many projects can claim to have canned talent the likes of Stanley Kubrick, Calder Willingham and Sam Peckinpah.
★★★★½ review by Wilson on Letterboxd
One-Eyed Jacks feels increasingly like a distillation of its influences, influences that never made it to the final picture. The Stanley Kubrick visual precision, and the Sam Peckinpah echoes of friendships gone wrong. It is somewhere between Ride the High Country, and The Wild Bunch. But with Marlon Brando behind the camera, as director, for the only time, it is something else as well.
It is an egotistical ode to his own face, while being a slightly sadistic assassination of his own character's character. It is a bold, talky, occasionally choppy, Western, that breathes during its 142 minutes, where opaque motivations meets a fairly straight-forward plot. It is a brilliant meeting between Brando and Karl Malden, with romance provided by Pina Pellicer and Katy Jurado; it has one of those melodramatic, grand romances, that it is hard to remember you are in a revenge western at times, as Brando lets the film get away from him, but brilliantly so.
The film has so many perfectly formed small scenes. Brando threatening Slim Pickens; Timothy Carey storming the film. But as a whole, it is overwhelming. A Billy the Kid story, that just drifts south and ignores all the conventions. Improvisational and raw. Somewhere between time. Between 1960s studio filmmaking, and 1970s New Hollywood. Large-scale, intimate, sprawling, but simple.
A brilliant, one-of-a-kind Western. Nothing else quite like it, doubt there ever will be.
★★★½ review by rischka on Letterboxd
most interesting as a sort of bridge between trad westerns and spaghetti westerns which soon came to dominate the form; production began in the late 50s but it wasn't released til '61. kubrick was fired cuz he wanted spencer tracy and brando insisted on malden (he was right). you can also see how an early draft by peckinpah made it's way into pat garrett and billy the kid. reportedly brando did not want to play the psychotic killer peckinpah had in mind. also brando's preferred ending had malden accidentally shooting his stepdaughter as she chases after brando but the studio nixed it. it's a tad overlong and the romance a little maudlin (esp the studio ending i think) but shockingly good for a first time director who never directed again? he wasn't happy with the experience apparently and complained for years it wasn't the film he intended. of course his cut was 5 hours long lol
★★★★ review by Jackass Joe on Letterboxd
Watched this on the big screen. Ironically today is also the day I finished Twin Peaks season 1. Peaks fans understand...
"Isn't that that western with Marlon Brando?"
★★★★½ review by John Charles on Letterboxd
Marlon Brando’s sole directorial effort is a magnificent looking oater that mixes familiar and contrasting elements in a stylistic manner that occasionally anticipates Sergio Leone’s work. He combines the more realistic and violent direction the genre was heading with romantic scenes shared by Brando and Pina Pellicer (a talented Mexican actress who committed suicide at a young age) seemingly dropped in from a more innocent age of the western. The blend works surprisingly well, and Brando’s performance is complimented by a first-rate selection of character actors (including an unusually sleazy and double-dealing Slim Pickens). ONE-EYED JACKS’ quality and enduring interest are even more notable when you consider that Brando was not involved in the final edit, the studio reducing his four hour version by almost half. The movie also seems to have confused the motion picture code as a couple of its chief no-no’s were allowed through.
The Film Foundation, in association with Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg (presumably a financial necessity, given the picture’s public domain status), has done an outstanding job restoring ONE-EYED JACKS, providing clarity, color, and image depth levels unseen in this title’s home video history.
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