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The Missouri Breaks

Directed by Arthur Penn

USA, 1976

HOME, 21 June 2015

The Missouri Breaks

The film is a weird Western about a gang of horse rustlers in Missouri who go up against a Laurence Sterne-reading rancher.

Worth a closer look is the romance between the rancher’s daughter (the wonderful Kathleen Lloyd, a terrific actress, whatever became of her?) and Tom Hogan, the gang’s leader, one of ‘em anyway, played by Jack Nicholson. Harry Dean Stanton plays the other gang leader. Of the regulator that’s called in to sort out the rustlers, well, he’s a queer bird called Lee Clayton (one of those idiosyncratic, out, out, far-out-there performances by Marlon Brando).

Several factors make this Western well worth a look-see: the graphic yet realistic violence; the courtship between Lloyd and Nicholson, in particular her sexually outspoken banter; the rugged and radiant landscape; the dialogue between Brando and Stanton, with a burning farmhouse as backdrop.

A film of terrible and luminous beauty.

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