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Tuesday, 31 August 2010


The previous POST relating to the myths of the Old West got me to thinking of  a movie I watched recently - Sunset, which was directed by Blake Edwards and released in 1988, didn't do too well at the box office and seems to appeal to neither western nor comedy fans. And yet it's not a bad movie and the novelty of seeing Wyatt Earp operating in 1920's Hollywood is worth the price of admission alone.

The film opens with a wonderfully clichéd mini-western movie – a stagecoach, beautiful blonde passenger, flees a group of desperate gunmen. Suddenly amidst sweeping music Bruce Willis, star spangled tunic and ten-gallon hat, appears to save the day.

Willis is playing B-movie western legend, Tom Mix and he’s none too happy that he’s been asked to play famed lawman, Wyatt Earp in his next movie.

“I didn’t get number one at the box office by playing other people,’ Mix tells his manager played with extreme sleaze by Malcolm McDowell.

James Garner here plays Earp for the second time, but this time he plays the character much lighter though when things get nasty we are reminded of his Earp from John Sturges’ excellent  1967 Hour of the Gun. And although it was Willis who was given top billing it is actually Garner who is given the most to do as the frontier marshal  uncovering murder and vice in 1920’s Hollywood. And understanding that this is a black comedy Garner plays Earp as a darker Maverick.

The film becomes something of a buddy movie as Earp and Mix become involved in all manner of mayhem – at times it’s a western and at other times it’s a noir-comedy but it surely us an unappreciated gem.

How much of it is true – well all of it, give or take a lie or two.


Evan Lewis said...

I really enjoyed this one. Need to see it again!

Ron Scheer said...

I wrote a review of this film back in May:

I got a chuckle out of the reprise of the OK Corral shootout at the end, on the stairs while the Oscars were being awarded in a nearby room.

Garner's Wyatt Earp was more Garner than Earp, but I thought Willis' Tom Mix was probably pretty close to the original.