When "Monte Walsh" appeared in 1970, I avoided it like the plague. "Who wants to see a movie about the end of an era?" I asked myself, conveniently forgetting how much I loved "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." So, nearly 30 years later, Turner Classic Movies gave me the opportunity to correct what might have been a mistake. Had I erred in 1970? Well, yes and no. Yes, because "Monte Walsh" now joins my list of one of the five best westerns ever made; and, no, because at the tender age of 21, I would not have appreciated this masterpiece; which, in these especially troubled times, seems more relevant than ever.
According to TCM host, Robert Osborne, William Fraker directed only 4 films during his distinguished career, preferring his role as director of photography. If "Monte Walsh" is any example, then director Fraker missed his calling; as, "Monte Walsh" boasts outstanding ensemble acting, unusual unless the director is especially gifted. Many in this cast give the best performances of his or her career, particularly Jim Davis and Mitchell Ryan. "Monte Walsh" should be the role for which Marvin is remembered, as "Chet" should be the role to remember Jack Palance. It's a joy and a privilege to watch Marvin and Palance interact, even more enjoyable than Marvin and John Wayne in their frequent pairings. The first two thirds of "Monte Walsh" is largely upbeat, even in the hard times portrayed, while the final third left me both numb and aching.
"I won't p**s on 30 years of my life," is one of the many profound quotations in "Monte Walsh." It defines Monte's code of honor; a decent, loving and honorable man unwilling to compromise who he is. I give "Monte Walsh" a "10".
Monte Walsh is an aging cowboy facing the ending days of the Wild West era. As barbed wire and railways steadily eliminate the need for the cowboy, Monte and his friends are left with fewer and fewer options. New work opportunities are available to them, but the freedom of the open prairie is what they long for. Eventually, they all must say goodbye to the lives they knew, and try to make a new start. —Jean-Marc Rocher
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
April 03, 2021 at 01:15 PM