As part of the leadup to promoting the new True Grit, Turner Classic Movies is doing its part by showing the original John Wayne True Grit, and showing Cat Ballou probably doesn't hurt, either. Well, maybe a little. Silly movies like this will not save us in a post-9/11 world...
...or will they? Frankly, the Taliban's indoctrination curriculum is a little dry for my tastes. I prefer the fun stuff and the science-based stuff myself. All that 'obey your god' stuff, that's for the masses. I am an extraordinary individual! And as such, I do not need to kowtow to the will of the masses... sorry, got off on my usual tangent again.
But I think I can force it all to relate in this post-I Heart Huckabees world. You see, Catherine Ballou starts off as a simple school teacher on the make, sometime in the Old West, with Stubby Kaye and Nat King Cole on singing / narrating duties. And then, the iron fist of the status quo slams down on everything she holds dear. Manure is dumped into her father's well, then her father is gunned down by a paid assassin. From the ashes of these events, she rises again like a bank-robbing phoenix, finding herself at ... wait a second! Butch Cassidy's Hole in the Wall Gang? What movie is this? That's right, Butch Cassidy is now an old man, and the Hole in the Wall is a much more lively community, not quite as grim as it seemed in the much more popular Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.
Also dragged into this delightful mess is Lee Marvin who won the Oscar for... apparently for the drunken Kid Shelleen. For the all-too-sober Tycho Brahe-nosed Tim Strawn, not so much. So he must've enjoyed himself a little. I can see why he earned it in his initial speech. A little more upbeat than, say, Rod Steiger in The Pawnbroker. I love you, Robert Osborne!
I guess the filmmakers were well aware of the declining state of the silver screen musical, as the musical numbers are restricted to interjections from Stubby and Nat King. The score itself is not bad; reminiscent of 'rock' music from the early Beatles era. There was one sunset shot I wanted to use, but it got eliminated from the TiVo too quickly. Fortunately, I was able to capture this image from the trailer on IMDb! As you can see, the visual trick was to set up a mirror on the tracks so it looks like the train's headed right at us. Can you think of some other movies that employed this trick? I think they did that in Lethal Weapon 2 for the first big scene, just as the bad dude's red BMW crashes into the lamp shade store. Also used at the end of Innerspace, at the beginning of The Hidden... Two if By Sea, but who wants to watch that again? Not even Denis Leary or Sandra Bullock. I gotta go, it's TV time.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan