Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Monte Walsh and Tough Guys

So I'm sitting at home watching Monte Walsh (1970) after recording it the previous night on Turner Classic Movies, and I'm thinking--among many other things--where have the tough guys gone? I know, this is a worn-out subject, discussed periodically, but I just wonder who the Lee Marvins and Jack Palances of today could be.

Daniel Craig exudes a certain rugged virility and intensity these days. Michael Madsen, a fellow with whom I share my height and weight statistics, may be weeks away from becoming fifty (September 25)--Happy Birthday to you, Michael!--but like Robert Mitchum he just looks tough and the effects of aging seem to actually agree with him insofar as heightening his world-weary demeanor.

Jason Statham? I liked the explosiveness of Denzel Washington's performance in Training Day until it became something of a parody in the last act. Tom Sizemore was steadily building a fine body of work as a gutsy lug in Natural Born Killers, Devil in a Blue Dress, Heat, Saving Private Ryan and other films before his career hit the skids.

In any case, we all still have the classics to go back to if we want to find some good old tough guys. Monte Walsh was terrific. You may want to see Christian Divine's thoughts on the film. Fortuitous timing, seeing Monte Walsh and a few minutes later going on the Internet and reading Christian's piece on it. As I said there in the warm immediate afterglow of just having seen it,

"I’ve got to say, I was remarkably impressed by it. Such a ’70s film. I love the wandering nature of it, and how funny it is at times and then how Fraker swings wrecking balls in the direction of the mythology while giving it plentiful nods at the same time.

John Barry’s theme is glorious, and I love how Bondian it becomes when Marvin is tracking down his enemy towards the end.

Lee Marvin, Jeanne Moreau and Jack Palance are all fantastic!"

A few modest observations and thoughts made after seeing a film that completely earns your attention, admiration and respect.


Anonymous said...

It's funny, but when I was watching MONTE WALSH i thought the same thing. Who could play these guys today? Only a few. Australians probably.

But the fact is, the Marvins and Palances were just that closer to the west than we are today.

Alexander Coleman said...

What you say about Australians rings true, Christian. I thought of Hugh Jackman, though I'm not sure. I suppose Australia later this year could answer some questions about him in this regard for me (he looks amazing, though, in the trailer--especially that shot of him at a party or something--very much the "classic leading man").

Another fellow, Ray Winstone, certainly a "tough guy."

You're right, however; the Marvins and Palances were indeed just that much closer to the old west.

Sam Juliano said...

So, you are 6 feet 2 inches and about 200 pounds, eh Alexander? Guess it won't be too difficult to point you out in a crowd then!? LOL!!!
This was a pleasant and light piece of writing, which I am expecting will be the calm before the storm! Nice work as always.

Alexander Coleman said...

Yes, that's me, Sam, ha. Thanks.

Daniel G. said...

Wow, what did happen to Tom Sizemore.

What about Russell Crowe? I think he can pull off a tough guy.

Alexander Coleman said...

Good call on Crowe, Daniel. Another Aussie.

Sizemore, for all of his toughness, became a victim to drugs and Heidi Fleiss.

peter said...

Hi Alexander,
I saw William Fraker's MONTE WALSH on tv a number of years ago and loved it. I'm a fan of elegaic Westerns. I've been trying to get a copy of the film since. Do you know if it is available on DVD?

Coleman's Corner in Cinema... said...


I apologize for being so tardy with a response!

Monte Walsh is a lovely, elegiac western as you rightly call it.

I've searched for it online in vain, but no matter: Turner Classic Movies shows it from time to time. Just ask Christian Divine about that, aha!

*goes off to search for a moment...*

I do not see it available in DVD, even now, Peter. This is unfortunate.

However, next time I see it scheduled to air on TCM, I'll be sure to record it with my two DVR's to have two more copies--one more for me and another for you. I gladly volunteer to mail it to you. The HD channel of TCM is even more beautiful than TCM proper, and few films look so glorious in gorgeous widescreen.

peter said...

Thanks, Alex, that would be great.

Are you a film buff? Do you have any favorite films?

There are lots of lesser known films that are well worth seeing. Films such as Lewin's THE PRIVATE AFFAIRS OF BEL AMI, for example. It's a fascinating film based on a Maupassant story.

I'm fond of the work of Elaine May, especially A NEW LEAF.

the cinema guy said...

Hello Alexander,

Glad to see you back... You're right, by the way -- there are no rtrue movie tough guys left. Robert Mitchum; Burt Lancaster; Lee Marvin; and John Wayne were all believable in these roles, as were Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson.
Steve Macqueen and Burt Reynolds to some extent as well. The problem now is that all we see out of Hollywood are action cartoons and it's impossible to take the actors (or the movies) seriously. In terms of classic actors there's George Raft; Humphrey Bogart; John Garfield; and the underrated Robert Ryan. Today, it seems like the names mentioned - Washington; Crowe; Winstone; Craig; and maybe Clive Owen are the closest thing we have... personally never fully bought ex-swimmer Strathairn's movie image.