Sunday, 26 January 2014

Lonely Are the Brave

I had a lazy day yesterday, but during the afternoon I stumbled across an old movie that made a lasting impact on me as a child - Lonely Are the Brave - starring two legendary figures from the silver screen: Kirk Douglas and Walter Matthau.

The 1962 film tells the story of John W. Burns, a rebellious cowboy cast from the same mould as Randle Patrick McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Lucas Jackson in Cool Hand Luke.

John (Jack) Burns is a likeable character, a bit of a rogue, an outcast from modern society which he refuses to accept, and he goes on the run (on horseback) after breaking out of prison, pursued by the local Sheriff, Walter Matthau.  

The odds are stacked against Burns as the state mobilises against him, but Burns and his trusty steed (Whiskey) outwit the chasing pack which includes a helicopter and appear to have made good their escape across the border into Mexico.

Matthau's character develops a grudging admiration for Burns and shows his humanity at the end of the movie when Burns and Whiskey are mown down by a giant truck driven by Carroll O'Connor, who played the Alf Garnett part in the American version of Till Death Us Do Part (All in the Family).

One thing I learned from watching the film again is that the screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo, the American writer blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

Apparently Kirk Douglas regarded Lonely Are the Brave as his favourite movie which doesn't surprise me in the least and although it's over 50 years old - it is still a great piece of cinema.