Paint Your Wagon ()

directed by Joshua Logan
featuring Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg, Ray Walston, Harve Presnell

Show Synopsis

After a debut on Broadway in 1951, Paramount spent an estimated 17 to 20 million dollars in production costs for this Lerner and Loewe musical. With Loewe's permission, Lerner wrote five additional tunes for the film with Andre Previn. Ben Rumson (Lee Marvin) is the grizzled prospector trying his luck panning for gold in California. Pardner (Clint Eastwood) is his companion. When Ben buys a woman from a Mormon, Elizabeth (Jean Seberg) expects equal rights for her gender and chooses to live with both men. Ben and Pardner ...


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Jul 4, 2017

Paint Your Wagon On Independence Day

I have developed the custom for July 4 of attending the local Independence Day parade and then writing an Amazon review appropriate to the holiday. This year I decided to watch and review the 1969 film of the musical "Paint Your Wagon". I have never seen it and have always loved the song, "They Call the Wind Maria". I have also been reading or watching some historic American westerns, including A.B.Guthrie's book, "The Big Sky" and the film of "Shane". I thought "Paint Your Wagon" might fit with my interest in Westerns and have an Independence Day theme about the nature of American freedom. Released in 1969, "Paint Your Wagon" came slightly after the heyday of genre Westerns of the 1950s and early 1960s and near the end of the era of large, lavish musicals.

Directed by Joshua Logan, "Paint Your Wagon" stars Lee Marvin as Ben Rumson, Clint Eastwood as "Pardner", and Jean Seberg as Elizabeth. The film is set during the California Gold Rush with most of the action taking place in a rough mining community and in the journey West. Ben Rumson, an aging wandering prospector befriends a young severely injured man on the trail who becomes his "Pardner". The two men become fast friends with all their differences in character. The plot turns on women and sex starved lonely men who travel West. Ben has the luck of purchasing the beautiful Elizabeth for a wife. But she and Pardner also develop feelings for each other. Rather than fight it out, the three enter into a highly modernistic three-way relationship. In the meanwhile, several prostitutes are kidnapped to service the men of the town which soon develops into a paradise of gambling and illicit sex. Civilization and settlement make their inevitable way.

This film was a good choice for a rainy Independence Day afternoon. While it is primarily a comedy, the movie captures the wanderlust and independent spirit that continue as part of the American dream. In this regard, Lee Marvin singing his song "I was born under a wandering star" is one of the highlights of the film. There was an openness and rawness about sex in the film that I didn't expect and that seemed to capture some of the profane independence of the Wild West pioneer spirit. The film also shows the tension between the near lawless character of the Old West and the coming more sedate settlement in the form of businesses, government, and churches.

All told, I still most enjoyed the character Rotten Luck Willie's (Harve Presnell) performance of "They Call the Wind Maria" relatively early in the film. I didn't know the context of the song in the show. It appears as a serious moment in the comedy which captures the loneliness and sense of loss of many of the pioneers who headed West.

"Paint Your Wagon" received negative reviews when it was released; and, although it drew large audiences, it failed to recover its huge production cost. The film is indeed long and slow. Even so, I was glad for the opportunity to see the film and hear the music at long last and to think about Independence Day while watching. I am also glad that over 1100 people have taken the opportunity to review this film here on Amazon., The movie remains alive.

Robin Friedman


Feb 25, 2010

Chorus Line Pans For Gold

TITLE: Paint Your Wagon
GENRE: Musical Comedy
CAST: Lee Marvin, Jean Seberg, Clint Eastwood, Ray Walston
PLOT: Anecdotal snippet of a drifter's collision with the California
Gold Rush. Based on Lerner and Loewe's Broadway musical. Marvin plays
drifter Ben Rumson who discovers gold while burying a fallen farmer by a streambed. A town, No Name City, grows around the find. Along the way there is romance, singing and mayhem. One singing scene has around 100 panners stream bathing in unison. This is Clint's adventure as a singing cowboy. Thank gawd he failed and went to Italy and spaghetti Western History. A great song is "They call the Wind Mariah". But the one that sums up this movie the best is the title song with lyrics of "Where am I going? I don't know. When will I get there? I don't care. All I know is I am on my way". Marvin's croaking of "I Was Born Under A Wandering Star" was a chart topper in the UK.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT:7.5 of 10 The music is first rate, the set is the High Sierras, the costumes are authentic but it's hard to imagine all the choreography juxtaposed with a mining operation. (it's so enjoyably long there is an intermission) .
DVD BONUS: Come on, it's Eastwood as a singing cowboy.


Jun 18, 2009

excellent movie

This movie is one of my favs...ever. Listening to Clint eastwood and Lee Marvin sing about gold and "fanciful women" is well worth the time and money. Very funny movie.

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