Paint Your Wagon [1969]

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical
This film and Hello Dolly were the knockout blows to the studio movie musical, but Paint doesn't deserve its tarnished name. Ben Rumson (Lee Marvin) takes the model of a rakish derelict to an unequaled high as a prospector who teams up with a greenhorn named Pardner (Clint Eastwood), and they both end up marrying the same scorned woman (Jean Seberg). No-Name City, the prospecting town they found, is Sodom and Gomorrah without the camels, and a vision of humanity left to its own devices. The songs are mostly wonderful melodies from Lerner and Loewe, with definite high points, notably "They Call the Wind Maria" and "Wand'rin' Star." Clint Eastwood always gets flack for his versions of "I Still See Elisa" and "I Talk to the Trees," but that scorn is equally undeserved. Perhaps Paint's biggest sin, in retrospect, was trying to combine the aesthetics of the musical with the aesthetics of the male protagonists' world-weary machismo. Not the easiest task, but Paint pulls it off. --Keith Simanton

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