Tuesday, 30 October 2012

the left handed gun (1958) - arthur penn

Paul Newman plays a devilishly handsome role (as usual) as William Bonney (AKA William Henry McCartey, jr / Billy The Kid).  He gets caught up in the Lincoln County War, and is portrayed as misunderstood and good natured, until he seeks revenge for the unjust  killing of cattle owner John Tunstall (the Englishman), who had been kind to him.
This was written by Gore Vidal, and, much as l love Newman, he doesn't convince in the role, especially when he portrays becoming mixed up or troubled.  Apart from the scenes when he is dancing, the camera just feasts itself on his eyes, but the menace of a real life outlaw is missing.  His sidekicks were pretty poor as well, but there was a good performance by John Dehner (as Pat Garrett), Billy's friend and later killer.
Liberties were taken with the facts of Billy's life, escape and death, but that is generally expected in these kind of 'shoot it out's', although why they don't stick to the true stories when they have as much going for it as this has, l really don't know. Still, it's an old cowboy film, so it was alright by me, as expectations are low in advance.
Although the film is called 'The Left Handed Gun', he may not have been, as the only photograph of Billy was probably reversed (see below).
He sure didn't look like Paul Newman, that's for sure.

toodle pip

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