Monday, June 25, 2007

Two Mules For Sister Sara

Eastwood or Wayne? Keaton or Chaplin? Lee or Chan? Katherine or Audrey? Vorhees or Myers? Truffaut or Godard? Spielberg or Scorsese? These are a few of the many choices that might point a person in the direction they gravitate toward regarding film taste. When it comes to westerns (or oaters as I like to say around the house), I’m an Eastwood man.

I just have never been drawn to Wayne’s films the way I have to Eastwood. Wayne’s too much of a “hero”. Eastwood’s protagonists are much more “grey” in their heroism. I like that. I love the Eastwood squint. I love the way his characters often have no name, are usually loners, and are hell bent on killing and revenge as a solitary act. In Eastwood’s westerns, people who ride with him are usually tag alongs, extra weight, useless and needing help in the rugged, frontier setting.

The Don Siegel directed Two Mules For Sister Sara (1970) is a very pleasant western with some of the elements I love so much in an Eastwood film of this sort. What makes it surprisingly fun though is the way it twists some of the Eastwood standards over to reveal lighthearted moments.

Clint, as Hogan, rides alone (of course) until he comes across a nun trying to get away from banditos. Begrudgingly for Hogan, the nun becomes useful when she provides information regarding an armory Eastwood wants to rob. Sara, the nun, played by Shirley MacLaine, has a lot of spunk for a nun. She’s prone to cursing, swigging alcohol and other non-nun like behavior and this gets Hogan’s attention. “If only this feisty and attractive nun wasn’t a woman of the cloth!” he hints to Sara during a drunken moment of their journey. The pair bond during the trip to the French garrison to settle the score/rob the place.

Two Mules For Sister Sara has similar aspects to many westerns—people on an arduous journey via horse/donkey over treacherous terrain, intentions to rob and the planning of that robbery and the always usable story of a small band of underdogs, joining together to defeat those who are the villains (in this case, the French military). Even with those standardized elements, the comedy from Eastwood/MacLaine, their chemistry and a memorable Ennio Morricone score makes the film a fun, worthy addition from a bygone era of great westerns.

Oh, for the record: Eastwood, Chaplin, Lee, Audrey, Vorhees, Truffaut, Scorsese. You?

10 comments:

bb said...

Ah, but we all don't want our Western heroes to be grey. I want a good guy. Always a good guy. The wearer of the white hat. A man who is always a man and will never let you down...John Wayne.

Replicant said...

I guess I like Eastwood's westerns because he's usually a good but flawed man. He's usually more of a "killer" than Wayne and I always liked the grittiness of his westerns vs Wayne's...granted, Wayne came first in an era w/ less grit...although he did make a good one called True Grit, ha.

bb said...

True Grit, haha. That is a good one. It was said somewhere that Clint with his squinty eyes could best John Wayne, but I beg to differ. The Duke has been to Africa and handled dangerous beasts. He has sailed the seven seas. He has been to Ireland and married Maureen O'Hara. Alas, Clint has done none of these things. All he has is his squint and some whiny background music.

Replicant said...

Don't forget the cigar.

And Morricone--"whiny background music"? You need to clean the ears and put in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly for that comment!

Replicant said...

Another reason Clint tops Wayne--did Wayne ever make a movie w/ a co-star as hilarious as Clyde--the orangutan who liked flipping the bird in the great fistfighting comedies like Any Which Way You Can? Uhm, I think not!

bb said...

An ape costar, didn't that one guy from Friends star in a movie with a chimp? Sorry, I just don't think acting with a monkey makes someone a great. A smelly cigar and what looked like a stinky poncho...sadly, these are Clint's legacies.

bb said...

I am thinking a showdown is in order. Head to head. Clint versus the Duke. (See, he doesn't even have a cool nickname).

Replicant said...

I'll win this battle right now: has John Wayne ever DIRECTED a good film?

One word: Unforgiven!

bb said...

Let's see. John Wayne directed The Green Berets and The Alamo. That isn't too shabby.

The Silver Screen Kid said...

Eastwood, Chaplin, Lee, Audrey, Myers, Godard, and Spielberg.

Damn you Truffaut!!!!!!!!!1