director Marlon Brando
Criterion has just issued a new restoration of Marlon Brando’s sole directorial opus, One-Eyed Jacks. And I can tell you, since Netflix sent me some older DVD of it, it was in dire need of sprucing up. The copy I saw wasn’t letterboxed, was terribly ratty (at times looking like a film from the early days of color (1930’s) and washed out) with a soundtrack that had to be cranked way up to be made audible.
Considering that, I’m reserving judgment here.
One-Eyed Jacks feels edgy for 1961, the tail end of the classic Hollywood Western. It bears some of the classic era out, yet portrays a world a bit more bawdy and verging on revisionism. Prostitution is portrayed more openly. Drunken shenanigans and lechery are more plainly spelled out. Brando’s character quite clearly takes the virginity of his rival’s daughter, for revenge. All this “earthiness” is accompanied by having Mexicans in more prominent roles, as noble characters rather than more typically stereotyped, and to a lesser extent the portrayal of Chinese.
It’s quite amazing that Rod Serling, Stanley Kubrick, and Sam Peckinpah all had roles in the creation of the film (all fired or eliminated before it became the film it is). Peckinpah’s imprint seems to linger perhaps. It sounds like quite the mess of a production, resulting in an eight hour rough cut, trimmed to four and then three hours, eventually pared to 141 minutes.
It’s an interesting picture. Brando and Karl Malden are very interesting in their relationship, the paternal betrayal and need for vengeance. At times sort of sloppy, at others very keen.
I’ll have to hold out for the Criterion version.