Daily Archives: June 28, 1996

The Long Gray Line

John Ford’s first and only completed film in ‘Scope also happens to be one of his major neglected works of the 50s. A biopic of epic proportions (138 minutes) about West Point athletic instructor Marty Maher (Tyrone Power), who failed as a student at the academy but stayed on to become a much-beloved figure, this 1955 film is an almost paradigmatic example of the “victory in defeat” theme that comprises much of Ford’s oeuvre. Adapted by Edward Hope from Maher’s autobiography, Bring Up the Brass, the film is rich with nostalgia, family feeling, and sentimentality. It’s given density by a superb supporting cast (including Maureen O’Hara at her most luminous, Donald Crisp, Ward Bond, and Harry Carey Jr.) and a kind of mysticism that, as in How Green Was My Valley, makes the past seem even more alive than the present. Not for everyone, but a work that vibrates with tenderness and emotion. A Technicolor, adapted 16-millimeter ‘Scope print will be screened. LaSalle Theatre, 4901 W. Irving Park, Saturday, June 29, 8:00, 904-5549.

–Jonathan Rosenbaum… Read more »

Acid Western

From the Chicago Reader (June 28, 1996). This essay subsequently grew into a book, commissioned by Rob White for the BFI Modern Classics, that came out in 2000, proved to be one of my most popular, and went into a second edition; a French edition is also available (2005), translated by Louis Malle’s daughter Justine, as well as a Czech edition and even an unauthorized Farsi one. –  J.R.

Dead Man

Rating **** Masterpiece

Directed and written

by Jim Jarmusch

With Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Lance Henriksen, Michael Wincott, Eugene Byrd, Mili Avital, Gabriel Byrne, John Hurt, Iggy Pop, Billy Bob Thornton, Jared Harris, Jimmie Ray Weeks, Mark Bringelson, Michelle Thrush, Alfred Molina, Robert Mitchum, and Crispin Glover.

When we speak of “seriousness” in fiction ultimately we are talking about an attitude toward death. — Thomas Pynchon

Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man, a disturbing, mysterious black-and-white western, opens with someone named William Blake (Johnny Depp), a recently orphaned accountant from Cleveland, traveling west on a train with the promise of a job at a metal works in a town called Machine. He keeps dozing off and waking to new sets of fellow passengers, including several who fire their guns out the windows at a herd of buffalo.… Read more »