Monday, May 10, 2010
Stake Your Claim in Paint Your Wagon (1969)
Paint Your Wagon (1969). Adapted from the 1951 stage musical by Lerner and Loewe. Cast: Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, and Jean Seberg.
This one of those movies I'm embarrassed to admit I love. I really enjoy the friendship that develops between the two lead characters and their lack of singing talents, which is so bad that it becomes interesting. The story begins as a wagon crashes into a ravine. Prospector Ben Rumson finds two brothers, one is dead and the other is injured with a broken arm and leg. As the one brother is about to be buried, gold is found at the graveside. As dirt is flying, Ben stakes a claim on the land and declares the other brother as his "Pardner". Later, Pardner, a hopeless romantic sings a love song about a girl named Elisa (can you believe Clint Eastwood is really singing)? Pardner hopes to find enough gold to buy some farmland. Ben claims that while he is willing to fight, steal, and cheat at cards, he promises not to betray a partner, and that he will share what ever gold he finds with Pardner on the condition that Pardner takes care of him in his moments of melancholy.
Soon, a tent city by the name of "No Name City" is built with the miners living a wild life and singing songs ("Hand Me Down That Can o' Beans") sung by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. My favorite song in the movie a beautiful balled called "They Call the Wind Maria.". By this time, the men are missing female companionship and the arrival of a Mormon, Jacob Woodling, with two wives, is the last straw. They talk him into selling one of his wives to the highest bidder. Elizabeth agrees to be sold, believing that whatever she gets, "it can't be as bad as what she has." A drunken Ben has the highest bid. Ben is readied for the wedding by the other miners ("Whoop-Ti-Yay")and Elizabeth is married to Ben under "mining law". She wants him to treat her with respect and to build her a wooden cabin. Ben promises to build her a cabin and with the help of the town's men, Elizabeth has a roof over her head.. Elizabeth's presence soon becomes a problem for Ben.
Just in time to save to Ben's sanity, they hear the news of the arrival of "six French tarts" coming to a neighboring town and quickly come up with a plan to kidnap the women and bring them to "No Name City" ("There's a Coach Comin' In"), providing the town with income as other miners from all over will travel to "No Name City" for... what should I call it... the night life.. Ben leaves Elizabeth in the care of Pardner. While Ben is gone, the two fall in love ("I Talk to the Trees"). Elizabeth says that she also still loves Ben, and convinces them that if a Mormon man can have two wives, a woman can have two husbands. Everything seems to be going, what I will call.. reasonably well.. until a group of religious settlers is rescued from the snow. They are invited to spend the winter with Elizabeth and Pardner, who they believe to be her only husband. Ben has to stay in town. What will happen to this love triangle ?
This is a clip from behind the scenes of Paint Your Wagon.
Eastwood and Marvin did their own singing while Seberg's songs were dubbed. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has a cameo in the song "Hand Me Down That Can o' Beans".
This film was made near Baker City, Oregon, Big Bear Lake, California and San Bernardino National Forest. Eastwood said that the experience made him want to become a director. According to Robert Osborne, "Marvin drank heavily during the filming of the movie, which may have enhanced his screen appearance, but led to delays and many retakes." My gosh..can you imagine..