December 03, 2005

Playing Second Fiddle To The Duke

I watched John Wayne's The War Wagon last evening. Not too bad a film, but I have to say this - there's something about Kirk Douglas that bugs me, although I can't quite figure out what it is. He seems to me to be, well, full of himself, as if every line he says is accompanied by the silent tag, "as performed by Kirk Douglas". (And yes, I realize Douglas' Lomax was supposed to be of a certain self-regard. But I get the same feeling from his Spartacus and everything else I've ever seen him in as well.)

You know that side-long look of contempt that Wayne sometimes gives another character, somebody being petty or evil or phoney? There were a couple of those between him and Douglas in this movie. Granted, they went along with Douglas' character, but I couldn't help wondering if there might have been a little real-life distaste behind them too.

Indeed, there was one great exchange that I loved because it seemed to let Wayne put Douglas in his place. They had just shot two bad guys. Douglas says, "Mine fell first." Wayne responds, "Mine was taller." Now this is exactly the kind of banter Wayne is famous for in other movies and with other partners. Most of the time, you can sense a certain warmth behind it. But I didn't get that here. Instead, it seemed just a little frosty

Heh. Of course, this all may just be my imagination projecting my tastes on to Wayne. Then again, it may not be. Those of you who are students of the Duke should feel free to either support or correct this impression if you like.

Now, if you want the exact opposite of this sort of thing, may I recommend again Wayne's El Dorado, made a year earlier? In particular, I would point out that Robert Mitchum comes across as the complete opposite of Douglas: workmanlike, solid and unpretentious, yet very effective in his role. And no questions asked about his toughness. I've an idea that Mitchum's Sheriff J.P. Harrah could take apart Douglas' Lomax any time, anywhere.

Posted by Robert at December 3, 2005 02:19 PM | TrackBack

The Duke - the one and only *sigh*

El Dorado is one of my favorites! Thanks for reminding me; now I'll need to dig it out and watch it tomorrow...

-- R'cat
CatHouse Chat

Posted by: Romeocat at December 4, 2005 09:24 PM

I've an idea that Mitchum's Sheriff J.P. Harrah could take apart Douglas' Lomax any time, anywhere.

Provided he was sober at the time, you mean. Otherwise, he'd probably just puke on him.

Posted by: mojo at December 5, 2005 11:07 AM

Well, yeah, mojo - but the movie makes it pretty clear (*I* thought, anyway) that Harrah's drunkenness was not a normal condition to him. After all, he sobers up pretty well at the end...

Besides, he was the Duke's buddy. Therefore, he had to be a Good Guy™. Q.E.D.


-- R'cat

Posted by: Romeocat at December 5, 2005 03:58 PM