Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {Cat Ballou}

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From 1965, it's the Oscar winning Cat Ballou, which is set in 1894, thirty years after almost all Westerns. Remember that.
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Jane Fonda plays Cat Ballou. Why is she sewing in jail at the beginning of the film?
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For the answer the wandering troubadours (Stubby Kaye and Nat King Cole) will sing us into a flash back.
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A few weeks ago, Catherine Ballou had just finished her teacher training at a girl's school back east and her prim teacher placed her on a train next to a preacher.
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Uncle Jed isn't really a preacher. He's trying to help his nephew/business partner to escape custody. Also, he's a little drunk.
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This is the nephew, Clay Boone, a cattle rustler. But Cat doesn't know that and thinks that he's a notorious criminal.
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But she does help him escape.
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When she gets to her father's ranch in Wolf City, she discovers that a corporation is trying to drive him off his land.
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Jackson Two Bears is the only one who sticks by her father and agrees to help Cat to save the ranch, somehow.
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Lee Marvin plays Tim Strawn, the gunman the corporation has hired to kill Frankie Ballou. Looks good and evil, doesn't he.
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I love that dress. At the country ball, she sees just how much the town hates him for holding onto his land and preventing Wolf City from being turned into an actual city.
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Guess who they ran into at the ball and guess who Cat invites back to the ranch thinking that they will protect her father?
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Jackson suggests hiring a gunman of their own, so she writes to Kid Shelleen, the greatest gun fighter ever!
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Only problem is that that was thirty years ago and Kid (also Lee Marvin, who won an Oscar) is now a falling down drunk.
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Fortunately, he's a functioning alcoholic. Kind of.
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But while Kid is recovering from travelling, Tim Strawn kills Frankie Ballou.
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Only the sheriff swears that Tim never left that chair in town all afternoon.
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When Cat returns to the ranch, she discovers that she's been evicted. That corporation sure does moves fast.
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There's only one thing to do. Put on a gingham shirt and pants and ride off to hide with the Hole in the Wall gang while she thinks of a plan to get revenge against Wolf City.
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But since this is set thirty years after Westerns, the Wild West is over and people no longer view gun fighters, robbers and cowboys as heroes. Which is why Butch Cassidy now runs the saloon in Hole-in-the-Wall, wants to stay out of trouble and looks nothing like Paul Newman.
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Clay, Jed and Jackson want to rustle cattle but Cat has a better idea. Naturally they should rob a train. But not just any train, the train carrying the corporation's pay roll and use Kid's plan from when he was at the top of his game. Kid thinks it's a great idea.
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They clearly aren't a bunch of hardened criminals, but they manage to rob the train without killing anyone. Yay!
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Slight problem. Butch Cassidy is upset that they robbed the train, because now Wolf City will come after the Hole in the Wall gang, who just want to live a simple life. And there wont be any new jobs in Wolf City, due to a lack of a pay roll. Unlike straight Westerns, Comedy Westerns do show the repercussions for seeking revenge before the end of the picture.
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Then, there is the other problem. Clay and Jackson are both in love with Cat. But this is still 1965.
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And then Tim shows up and does the traditional villain speech of if you weren't a girl, yadda yadda yadda.
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There's only one way to stop Tim: take a bath.
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Then, put on a really snazzy outfit and head into town sober.
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So, Lee Marvin finally meets the stand-in Lee Marvin. Guess what the shocking plot twist is.
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Meanwhile, Cat finds a gorgeous dress in the middle of now where and heads into town to have a "talk" with the head if the corporation. Now guess why she's in jail.
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How will Cat escape this foreboding shot?
Well, it has to do with these two drunks:
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1 comment:

barncat said...

Very fun movie! The first time I saw this, it was shown to our Junior High for a Christmas party. We were all very disappointed to have to watch an "ancient" movie and a western to boot, but we all loved it (at least I did!).