The Ballad of Lefty Brown

Aging sidekick Lefty Brown has ridden with Eddie Johnson his entire life. But when a rustler kills Eddie, Lefty is forced from his partner’s shadow and must confront the ugly realities of frontier justice.

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  • ★★★½ review by Tyler Jacob on Letterboxd

    Hell of a character piece assembled here, an endearing and melancholic examination of what it means to be a sidekick boasting spectacular work from Bill Pullman and 35mm cinematography to die for. The whodunnit gets a bit convoluted and the villain is such an afterthought, but as a vehicle for Pullman's underrated talent and exploration of a classic facet of the American western, you can't do much better.

  • ★★★★ review by JosephLoftgren on Letterboxd

    I know it won't happen, but Bill Pullman deserves the Oscar for Best Actor for this. He was truly outstanding, one of the best performances I have seen in several years. Without him, 'The Ballad of Lefty Brown' is a wandering western epic that just doesn't quite feel right.

    Lefty Brown is one of the best and most easy to root for characters I've seen on screen this year, up there with Diana Prince, Valkyrie and Tom Hardy in a Supermarine Spitfire. He exudes all the vulnerability and insecurity of the unliked sidekick he was, but seeing him fight tooth and nail for justice with all the odds stacked against was awesome.

    The supporting cast is strong as well, with particular regards to Kathy Baker, who has quite a satisfying arc, and displays a ton of different emotions magisterially.

    Also, what a tremendous use of 35mm. Other than the 'A Ghost Story', I haven't really had a movies film making technique really jump out at me this year. It helps the western landscape feel grittier, feel more like an Eastwood western than it would have otherwise.

    The ending was terrific, and the gunfights, though sporadically placed, are filled with meaningful moments.

    Oh, and shoutout to Diego Yosef, a future star!

  • ★★★★ review by Nikolas on Letterboxd

    I dont watch westerns often, this one was awesome. The guy who played Lefty Brown is really cute. I mean old people cute.

  • ★★★½ review by Lee Russell on Letterboxd

    What if the old, cranky comic relief side-kick character from classic John Wayne westerns (think Walter Brennan as Stumpy from "Rio Bravo") had his own adventure?

    Bill Pullman as Lefty Brown is one of those characters. He's a bit daft, he's a bit clumsy, but for 40 years he's been an honest, steadfast and loyal friend to lawman-soon-to-be-turned-senator Edward Johnson (Peter Fonda). Johnson helped tame the wild west (even the dime novels say so), but while going on one last hunt after some cattle rustlers, he eats a bullet. Lefty is now alone, but determined to catch the killers. Nobody thinks he's up to the task.

    "The Ballad of Left Brown" treats its subject with respect and depth, and it surprisingly plays things fairly straight, like a classic western, although with a modern, gritty edge to it - but it's not what I'd call revisionist. The good guys and the bad guys are pretty well-defined.

    Pullman is fantastic as Lefty. Nobody believes in him, and he's spent so long being that bumbling side-kick that even he doesn't seem to realise how capable he actually is, even when it becomes obvious there's a conspiracy behind Johnson's murder, and Lefty eventually becomes pinned for it. However, his true character comes out from this adversity. Why would a western hero keep a guy like Lefty around? Both Lefty and the viewer discover the reasons.

    The film is a bit too long, and the real villain could stand-in for Snidely Whiplash at times, but over all this is a welcome addition to the genre.

  • ★★★½ review by serge coopman on Letterboxd

    Bill Pullman is doing a remarkable comeback. In a genre where almost everything has already been done, he puts it completely to his hand. A remarkable western with a fantastic Pullman and cast.

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