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Author Topic: Tom Horn (1980)  (Read 16425 times)
dave jenkins
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« Reply #45 on: October 19, 2010, 05:50:54 PM »

Done.

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« Reply #46 on: November 10, 2011, 07:29:49 PM »

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Steve McQueen's penultimate film, Tom Horn (1980) is a good but flawed Western. With a creative visual sense and interesting anti-hero, it falls just short of iconic status.

Former Indian scout Tom Horn (Steve McQueen) rolls into 1903 Montana with .45-60 Winchester rifle and a chip on his shoulder. Horn is hired by local rancher John Coble (Richard Farnsworth) as a "stock detective," tracking and (when necessary) killing rustlers and Coble's rivals with ruthless efficiency. The big cattle bosses taking over the region grow disturbed by Horn's brutality, and the murder of a 15 murder boy provides them a perfect opportunity to get rid of the grumpy gunsel.

Tom Horn starts out great, its gritty "realism" better than most '70s Westerns. William Wiard's unfussy direction provides an interesting facsimile of turn-of-the-century Montana, highlighted by John A. Alonzo's gorgeous photgraphy. The violent, creative action scenes are another highlight: one clever shootout is staged in a slaughterhouse, with scatterguns splintering wood and splattering raw meat. And Horn himself, a prickly killer callously used and discarded by his bosses, makes a unique hero.

In the later sections, though, Tom Horn runs out of steam. The film's "death of the West" and anti-corporate preoccupations come off like warmed-over Peckinpah and overwhelms the second half. After Horn's arrest, the movie spirals into a melange of dull verbiage and inappropriate flashbacks with Horn's lover (Linda Evans). Wiard incorporates some odd style choices (a trial voiceover playing over an empty courtroom) and heavyhanded symbolism (Horn dropping his shell necklace) in case some viewers don't get the point.

Steve McQueen does a nice job with a difficult. Once a hero who helped captured Geronimo, Horn is now a surly gun-for-hire with a penchant for brutality, a Western man out of place in new society. The real Tom Horn wasn't a pretty character, and McQueen doesn't make him any more likeable than necessary. McQueen's nuanced performance ranks among his very best.

The Western genre virtually died in the '80s, and Tom Horn is a lovely bow for two generations of Western character talent. Old hands like Slim Pickens (Dr. Strangelove) and Elisha Cook Jr. (Shane) are onhand, along with a newer crop of Western "characters": Richard Farnsworth (Ulzana's Raid), Billy Green Bush (The Culpepper Cattle Co.), Geoffrey Lewis (The Wind and the Lion) and Roy Jenson (Dillinger). One of the Western genre's pleasures is seeing familiar faces, and Tom Horn has plenty.

Tom Horn could have been a classic Western with a little fine-tuning. Despite these flaws, it's still an enjoyable film with a nice turn by Steve McQueen. 7/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2011/11/tom-horn.html

« Last Edit: November 10, 2011, 07:30:50 PM by Groggy » Logged


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« Reply #47 on: November 14, 2011, 11:05:20 AM »

While writing my new book on McQueen, I watched it again for the first time since 1980. It aged really well. Not that it ever was a GREAT film, but it is quite good and unusual. McQueen directed as well, the project was very close to him. The music I didn't like.

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #48 on: November 14, 2011, 02:59:59 PM »

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McQueen's nuanced performance ranks among his very best.
I think Steve went for--and got--something like a character performance instead of rolling out his usual iconic one. I love the iconic Steve, but it's great to see what else he could do. He showed in Tom Horn that he in fact had much more range than is usually supposed.

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« Reply #49 on: November 15, 2011, 06:26:26 PM »

I think Steve went for--and got--something like a character performance instead of rolling out his usual iconic one. I love the iconic Steve, but it's great to see what else he could do. He showed in Tom Horn that he in fact had much more range than is usually supposed.

Nailed it. Afro

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Groggy
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« Reply #50 on: November 15, 2011, 06:27:26 PM »

I'd hate to see this buried in the RTLMYS thread:

http://www.tom-horn.com/

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