Paint Your Wagon

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Ben Rumson (Lee Marvin) and Pardner (Clint Eastwood) might not be the usual mining partners, but they manage to get along well enough. In the midst of the gold boom, these two work together and also have various adventures, often with laughable results. The two share whatever bounty they find right down the middle, heck, they even married the same woman, if that tells you anything. The woman is Elizabeth (Jean Seberg) and the two bought & shared her, but that is just one of the insane plots these two have been involved in. They manage to cause a rush in their small town, they try to overtake a stagecoach, and even have a wild time with a number of prostitutes, but in the manner you might think. Will these two unusual men ever be able to hit the big time and if so, will their partnership last or fall to the wayside?

I’d seen this movie on cable many times and while it is an unusual one, Paint Your Wagon is also a very fun and worthwhile film. I mean, how can you not want to see Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin in a musical? I can understand the potential hesitation, but even if just for sake of novelty, Paint Your Wagon is worth a look. Eastwood and Marvin have humorous characters to work with and even sing their own songs, which brings even more humor to the film. So yes, this is very much a comedic film and in addition to the hilarious songs, it has some terrific dialogue based humor also. Whether Clint is walking through the woods and singing to the trees, or we’re just watching some basic scenes, Paint Your Wagon never fails to bring up a few chuckles, at the least. It runs a little long overall, but this movie is still more than recommended. I think a rental will suffice however, since Paramount has slapped on a steep price and minimal value elements.

A musical with Lee Marvin? Yes, it is a little hard to swallow, but Lee Marvin is in this movie and of course, he howls out some tunes. In truth, Marvin manages well enough with his songs here and on the whole, this is one of his better performances. I’ve liked Marvin in many, many roles and here, he brings in his usual tough exterior, but also chimes in with the singing, which makes for an unusual, but fantastic combination. I know some folks will have a hard time taking a leap of faith for a musical with Marvin, but trust me, there’s no risk involved here. You can also see Marvin in such films as Hell in the Pacific, Cat Ballou, Donovan’s Reef, and The Dirty Dozen. The cast also includes Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry, In the Line of Fire), Jean Seberg (Playtime, Breathless), and Harve Presnell (The Family Man, Saving Private Ryan).

Video: How does it look?

Paint Your Wagon is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This looks much better than expected, given the film’s age and what not. The image is on the soft side and shows some wear signs, but still looks much better than previous releases. The colors are in fine form and never becomes too rich, while contrast is even handed and never obscures detail. This is by no means a pristine visual effort, but given the age of the film and other circumstances, I’d say this is about as good as we’ll see for a while.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track won’t knock you over in the recliner, but it sounds terrific and should please fans. I was surprised at how clean it was, with no distortion or harshness at all, while hiss was also absent. The surrounds aren’t too active, but the music sounds very good and sound effects are more than acceptable. The dialogue is a little thin and sounds unnatural at times, but never too an extreme level, by any means. This is a passable audio effort and given the film’s nature & age, I think it is a solid presentation. This disc also includes mono options in English and French, as well as English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

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