Friday, March 9, 2007

Brando Rides Alone by Barry Gifford.

North Atlantic Books 2004 publication of Barry Gifford's Brando Rides Alone resembles the great 33 and a third series, those great short works by various writers discussing their favorite albums. Brando Rides Alone is very short, less than 40 pages of Gifford's thoughts on Brando's One Eyed Jacks and then about 45 pages of a screenplay excerpt.
Gifford is most known for writing Wild At Heart and creating the characters of Sailor Ripley and Lulu, two characters that David Lynch cemented in film history.
His short little ode to Brando's film is an enjoyable read. Each chapter is typically just a couple of pages long and it should be read as a personal view and not a deep history of the film.
Gifford loves Peckinpah and The Wild Bunch, his favorite American film, and Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid are mentioned a lot. He calls One Eyed Jacks a better film that Pat Garrett and points out that Brando's film obviously influenced The Wild Bunch. He also points out that Peckinpah's original script for Jacks greatly resembles what finally made it to the screen and that he should have a screenplay credit on the film.
Gifford can write and when the man says, "Brando made Americans, in their wretched void of seemingly purposeful ignorance and dreamy nostalgia's for places and times that never existed, feel something outside of themselves", I have to smile and tip my hat to the man's prose.
The book reaches it height in the chapter on film critics where Gifford blasts the original reception of the film and then tells an amazing story about Mexican director Emilio Fernandez actually shooting a critic.
I like the book, I wish there was more to it but it is what it is, and it is fine that way.

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