The Ballad of Lefty Brown (2017): Life of an “Also Ran” (Review)

BalladofLeftyBrpwn

The Ballad of Lefty Brown is an interesting concept from start to finish. Part homage – it pays more than a little tribute to both The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Unforgiven – with a story about a western “also ran” who did not make the pages of the penny dreadfuls of the time. Written and directed by  Jared Moshe, the film is described as a “coming of age” film. 

Lefty Brown, played brilliantly by personal favorite Bill Pullman, is a “man-child.” His implied backstory is that at one time he and three other partners terrorized the southwest territory. One of these is going to be the new senator (Peter Fonda in a small but pivotal role) and after his death, two other old friends arrive to sort things out.

The film gives us a protagonist that, at times, is both simple and sly. One wonders just how much of Lefty Brown’s “slowness” is real. There are many instances where this character appears to be more than meets the eye.

We are privy to Lefty’s journey and Moshe gives us a story that pleases almost as much as it dismays. Pullman’s character goes through his paces with a doggedness that one assumes has been his main trait since birth.

It is his very pedantic, and simple,  approach to all things that has kept him from gracing the pages of the dime novel that the greenhorn Jeremiah (played very well by newcomer Diego Josef) carries with him in the film. Jim Caviezel and the splendid Scottish actor Tommy Flanagan are outstanding as the two old pals who were once part of the “gang.” 

Kathy Baker is spot on as the bitter and angry widow who fights for what is rightfully hers and the tale, while coming across as rather dire, is interesting enough to keep one glued to the seat for the climax. At just under two hours, The Ballad of Lefty Brown successfully manages to combine a character study with the western genre. 

This is Pullman’s film. From start to finish he commands the screen with his characterization of a man destined to be forgotten by all who knew him and it is Oscar-worthy. “Lefty Brown” combines music, sets and costumes effectively to make this oddly intimate film feel like a sweeping epic, along the lines of a John Ford (Cheyenne Autumn for example) western with just a touch of Spaghetti Western for good measure.

There is not an awful lot in the way of gun play, just one short gunfight in the middle, and the violence is not overly visceral in nature. This is more of a character study as we watch a man whose life has always been, it seems, outside the action.

However, there is the hint of a backstory that is slightly evocative of the Ford classic, “The Searchers” where the marshal’s wife was kidnapped by a Native American Tribe and one of the small group wishes for the good old days when “folks’ trembled before them.

This is an American West that resembles the AMC Robert Redford retelling of this countries history. It is all corrupt politics and bad men profiting from their past. Somethings, apparently, have not changed.

The Ballad of Lefty Brown is a solid 5 star film that delivers some solid performances from all the leads and gives Bill Pullman a real chance at garnering some awards.  Fans of the genre will love this homage to all things western.

BLOGGER’S TAG!! “SMACK!” You’re IT…

I’ve never done a bloggers tag before, so I’ve got to thank Kim over at Tranquil Dreams for reaching out and smacking me with a tag. Thanks Kim! She’s got a great blog going over there and just recently put up a recipe for yummy Banana Cake if you haven’t made her acquaintance yet, click on either of the previous links and check her out. She’s great.

Now for the rules. Sit down in the back and stop sighing! You know there’s going to be rules; it’s the nature of the beast. Does everyone have a pen and paper? Right, let us begin. Oh and spit out that gum, unless of course, you have enough for everyone!

The Rules:
1. Post these rules.
2. Post a photo of yourself and eleven random facts about you.
3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post.
4. Create eleven new questions and tag new people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog/twitter and let them know they have been tagged.

*Self photo (life sized) and 11 factoids about moi.*

A couple of mugs…
  1. After owning this laptop for almost 4 years, I only just discovered that the web camera had a plastic covering over it.
  2. I love, love, love Starbucks coffee.
  3. After stopping smoking on the 30th of August 2012, I’m now addicted to the damn nicotine gum.
  4. On the 30th of August when I had my heart attack, it took me 3 and a half hours to make up my mind to have my daughter call the ambulance.
  5. While I tried to figure out what was happening to me on the 30th of August I drank 3 cups of coffee and had 4 cigarettes.
  6. I was cast in a Peter Fonda film when I was in High School but never got to film the part.
  7. I met Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, et al) when I was in high school; he was a very nice and patient man.
  8. I once saw Sean Connery without his hair on.
  9. I am incapable of passing items that say touch me or press me without doing as requested.
  10. I was once nearly decapitated by a sheet of flying sheet metal during a sandstorm in New Mexico.
  11. I am in the (very slow) process of writing/finishing a collection of short stories.

Now for Kim’s 11 questions:


1) Cookies or Cakes?

Cookies every time although I do like a bit of Black Forest Gateau.

2) What was your first Blu-ray or DVD you ever purchased?

I honestly don’t remember, I’m pretty sure it was Wrong Turn with Elisa Dishku, but I could be wrong.

3) Whats the most inspiring book/movie you’ve ever read/seen?

      The book that most influenced me was The Stand by Stephen King and movie was Terminator 2.

        4) Cats or Dogs? Or other pets?

Both, I love animals, but I’m too lazy to want to look after them!

5) What type of music do you like?

I like all music! Up to and including Dub-step!

6) Whats your favorite Grimm’s Fairy Tales?

As a fan of horror, it’s got to be Red Riding Hood. That woodsman and his axe! Yeah baby!

7) Console, Handheld, PC or Arcades?

Console all the way!

8) Favorite flavor of chips?

English crisps – Salt and Vinegar, American Chips – Green Onion.

9) What animal do you visit first at the zoo?

The monkey house every time.

10) What food could you eat every single day?

I could eat Quorn Chilli every day of my life!

11) Who is your favorite superhero?

Superman, I used to watch George Reeves re-runs when I was really little. Although I do love Buffy who is a modern day super hero!

Now it’s time for my 11 questions:

  1. Snow, rain, or Sun?
  2. What is your favourite genre of literature/film?
  3. Do you snore when you sleep?
  4. Who hogs the covers in your house?
  5. If you could be a movie character, who would it be?
  6. Do you watch sub-titled movies?
  7. Who is your favourite movie director?
  8. What is your “guilty pleasure?”
  9. Seaside, mountains, or desert?
  10. Would you crash your car to avoid hitting an animal in the road?
  11. Do you prefer mornings or afternoons?

Now for my “Tag-ees:”

Serendipity

Written in Blood

Mad Ramblings and Assorting Musings

Tim’s Film Reviews

Cinema Schminema

ClaratsiMovieBlog

Robbins Realm Blog

foxxiecinnamon’s Blog

jackie.eat.world

Issac Picture Conclusions

Cinematic

So there you have it! Another fun way for us to spread the word about other blogs out there that are fun to read; click on the links and check these folks out, you won’t be sorry. And as usual I apologise in advance for those deserving blogs I did not get to tag, I really do love you all.

Cheers!

Actors

When I was a boy I had a list of actors about as long as my arm that I wanted to meet. There was also a shorter list of actors I actually would have done anything to work with. I have had a long love affair with Theatre, Film and to a slightly lesser degree television. Ever since I came to the momentous conclusion that I wanted to be an actor, I have been in awe and enamoured of any actor whose performances move me.

Top of the list of “meet-a-bles” was The Duke. John Wayne was, to me anyway, the master of reacting. He also had a knack (one that was enhanced by his “script doctor”) of speaking in very natural tones, but with that Duke cadence that will be forever remembered.

Dean Martin ran a close second. Again, mainly because of the almost lackadaisical way he had of delivering his dialogue. I am talking about his better films here. His method of delivery was so natural, it was as though he had not memorised dialogue, but made it up as he went along.

Richard Burton, with that beautiful voice, enthralled me literally from the first second I heard him speak. I wanted more than anything to see him in Camelot. When I think of actors his name is always first on the list, closely followed by Lawrence Olivier, Richard Harris, Sean Connery and Michael Caine. All actors I so intensely admired and would have given anything to have worked with.

And who could forget the man with the sing-song, musical voice Peter O’Toole. This long lanky actor was also in the league of Oliver and Connery and Burton and Caine. Mr O’Toole announce today that he is retiring from acting. Another legend gone. The world has lost a great actor, not through death, but from age.

There was only one actress that fell into both categories and that was Elizabeth Taylor. My high school drama teacher had worked with her and she swore that they were the same age until suddenly Ms Taylor started getting younger each year. I don’t know about that, but I do know that Pat Collier still thought very highly of Ms Taylor and would sing her praises monthly.

I actually saw Sean Connery in a Holiday Inn restaurant/bar in Alamogordo New Mexico in 1981. He walked within a foot of my and a friends table. Even out of make-up and sans toupee he commanded the room. I was so shocked by his appearance in this out of the way place,  that I was practically speechless. I found out later that he was making a film with Katherine Ross and Robert Conradat the White Sands National Park.

Of course most of the actors I wanted to meet are all gone. They are treading the boards on some other plain of existence or they have “semi” retired. Of course I never really got into the business enough to insure I met anyone. I have met and auditioned for Jonathan Demme. The year was 1976 and the film was Fighting Mad with Peter Fonda.

I got the part, after a very patient Jonathan kept making me re-read it. He kept reminding me that I wasn’t on a stage so I had to tone down my performance. I left thinking I had blown it. It was a good part too. I was going to be saved by Peter Fonda’s character at the beginning of the film. I got the phone call two weeks later and went in to sign the contract with my dad.

Alas, I never got to work on that film. Due to money problems, the company (Palo Alto Productions) started cutting costs where they could and got a young stuntman to do my scene – presumably cheaper than if I had done it. I found this out from a friend of mine who was a Gopher on the film.

I have since worked on small things here and there. Life, love and the support of first one family and then another sort of side tracked me from my “artistic pursuit.” I am slowly and hesitantly backing into my first love. Writing. Before I had decided in my youth to tread the boards, being a writer was my big dream.

Sean Connery at the 2008 Edinburgh Internation...
Sean Connery at the 2008 Edinburgh International Film Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe one day, if I actually get my ageing butt in gear and start looking for it, I will get work acting again. But until that time, I’ll write my blogs and try to stretch my literary muscles in preparation to write the next great American or English novel.