Thursday, September 13, 2012

Marlon Brando: One-Eyed Jacks

At one point in László Benedek's The Wild One (1953), when Brando as biker character Johnny is asked what he's rebelling against he famously replies, "Whatdaya got?" In One-Eyed Jacks (1961) -- which Brando directed and stars in -- his horseback-riding character Rio is more interested in settling a five-year-old score with his former partner-in-crime Dad Longworth (Karl Malden) than in general rebellion, though here, too, he is rebellious, and here, too, cherchez la femme: Sheriff Bleeker's daughter Kathy in The Wild One, played by Mary Murphy, is almost exactly paralleled by Sheriff Longworth's stepdaughter Luisa in One-Eyed Jacks, played by Pina Pellicer, a haunting actress who committed suicide in 1964.


One-Eyed Jacks is more or less a B-grade film, but it's plenty interesting and could use a good physical restoration (the colors look garish and smudgy, for one thing).  In addition to Brando, Malden and Pellicer, there are some enjoyable character actors involved, including Mexican greats Katy Jurado and Rodolfo Acosta, Puerto Rican great Miriam Colón, the always reliable Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens and, lesser known but also good, Larry Duran and Joan Petrone.

Other notable things about One-Eyed Jacks include its
settings -- Sonora, Mexico and Monterey, California, in the
1880s -- and its sympatico depiction of Mexican characters. Both pretty unusual in U.S. films at the time. It's also worth mentioning that at one time or another, Rod Serling, Sam Peckinpah and Stanley Kubrick were all involved in the project.  

Today's Rune: Signals.     


Charles Gramlich said...

Rod serling eh? Hum, I don't think I've even heard of this one.

jodi said...

Erik, Marlon Brando can do no wrong!