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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

PAINT YOUR WAGON (1969)

One of the mega-bomb late ‘60s musicals (even Elvis came to grief that year with CHANGE OF HABIT), this revamped Lerner & Loewe tuner boasts a stunning physical production wonderfully caught by lensers William Fraker & Loyal Griggs. But Paddy Chayefsky ’s all-new book (it's THE GOLD RUSH meets DESIGN FOR LIVING) was too risqué for the family audience while the musical comedy format was too unhip for the burgeoning youth/counter-culture crowd. Within its own lunatic parameters, the first half largely comes off under megger Josh Logan ’s genial hand, but his films never matched his great stage successes. As the grizzled prospector, Lee Marvin is impossibly broad (he's trying to top his turn in CAT BALLOU), Clint Eastwood subdues his jazz instincts to make like Pat Boone as the male ingenue, while Jean Seberg is just awful purty. You sure see all those millions up on the screen, but after intermission, the pic collapses long before the town does. And you still have to get through Ray Walston & a couple of wan Andre Previn tunes that were added to beef up the sturdy but old-fashioned original score. The movie execs of those times weren't just out of touch, they were out to lunch.

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