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Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Shooting (1966)

An ex-bounty hunter (Warren Oates), now working in a mine, and his rather dim witted friend (Will Hutchins) are offered a thousand dollars by a rather enigmatic woman (Millie Perkins, DIARY OF ANNE FRANK) to accompany her through the desert to a town called Kingsley. She refuses to provide any more information but as the journey progresses, it is clear they are being followed by a fourth party (Jack Nicholson). Directed by Monte Hellman from an original screenplay by Carole Eastman (FIVE EASY PIECES), this low budget western had a checkered history. Never receiving an official theatrical release in the U.S., the film nevertheless garnered quite a reputation in France (Jean Luc Godard championed the film) and ran for a year in a Paris cinema. It has since acquired a large cult following and it's reputation enhanced in the ensuing years. Often referred to as an existential western, the film is sparse and bleak as it follows its ill fated characters in what seems a self defeating journey to its inevitable conclusion. The narrative provides us with as little as we need to know because it's not the plot that drives the film but the four protagonist's determined course to their destiny. Gregory Sandor (De Palma's SISTERS) is responsible for the marvelous Utah location lensing.

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