Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Art of the Comanche Cat-Call

The Law and Jake Wade (1958)
directed by John Sturges
rating: 3 out of 5 cravats
on DVD from Netflix

Since moving to Pittsburgh, I’ve debated whether watching movies set in a geography I didn’t want to leave behind will serve as some kind of solace, or slowly but inevitably drive me insane. Jake Wade employs the ever-unhinged Richard Widmark to hold Robert Taylor at gunpoint across a Cinemascope landscape so ruddy and so blue that the wandering narrative of soured loyalties – it would have been better, and half as long, if Widmark’s gang wasn’t there at all – can’t help but be dwarfed by its surroundings. If nothing else, this is an early treatment of the heart of the Pat Garrett story – abandoning one’s criminal friends to fight for law and order - but too moralistic and too self-righteous to raise more questions than it ham-fistedly answers.