each new mcqueen film i watch adds to the guy’s legacy. i thought i knew the guy because i had seen great escape, blob, hell is for heroes, magnificent seven and bullitt, but i’ve gained a new appreciation for him after seeing this, cincinnati kid and papillion. he’s much more than just a tough loner. there’s a depth in his character that i saw in great escape, but discovered in the other three aforementioned films. for some reason i’ve always compared mcqueen and newman. until recently i thought i liked newman more, but that’s not true anymore. i’ve seen 9 mcqueen films and 8 newman films (none of his pre-cool hand luke stuff) and at this point i definitely like mcqueen more.
william wiard, who directs, does a very fine job here. like schaffner with papillion, wiard makes an artistic picture without asserting his personality so much that it smothers the rest of the flimmakers. the artistry isn’t highfalutin, either. there are moments in the film where the brutality of the west requires an unfettered touch, wiard channels the spirit of peckinpah. there are two particularly brutal head shots which, though brief, bring home the truth of the west pretty fucking well.
features some good bit performances from slim pickens and elisha cook jr.
tom horn is an unusual western hero. like shane or james stewart characters in the mann pictures, he has a dark past. he also has a wry sense of humor and a great respect for his adversary; included native americans. i don’t know much about the the actual history of the man, but the picture portrays him as an uncompromising, unapologetic, but humble and likable character. mcqueen brings him to life brilliantly. when it comes to characters like this i think i agree with ford’s conclusion in “the man who shot liberty valance:” “when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
tom horn: “what’s the difference between a u.s. marshal and an assassin?”
U.S. Marshal Joe Belle: “with a marshal the checks come on time.”