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Author Topic: The Hallelujah Trail (1965)  (Read 336 times)
Spikeopath
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« on: June 25, 2017, 06:29:12 AM »

Tough to recommend. I love epic films but had avoided this for many years, such was its reputation. I finally sat down last night to watch.


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059250/reference

Quirks, Quandaries and Quicksand.

The Hallelujah Trail is directed by John Sturges and adapted to screenplay by John Gay from the novel written by Bill Gulick. It stars Burt Lancaster, Lee Remick, Jim Hutton, Pamela Tiffin, Brian Keith, John Anderson, Martin Landau and Donald Pleasence. Music is by Elmer Bernstein and cinematography by Robert Surtees.

Depending on who you talk to about The Hallelujah Trail, it will either be called an ass numbing bore or a misunderstood gem, such is the reputation of it, it kinda demands to be seen so as to evaluate why so divisive.

It flopped on release and was savaged by critics, while it was a tough production from the off, one that badly over ran and was expensive to film. Cast members not getting on, bad weather, bad location provisions for cast, and the awful death of stuntman Bill Williams during one particular scene. Add in that lead man Lancaster looks bored - working at a time that he called his slavery period - then it felt doomed at an early stage.

Its failure has been contributed to a number of things, such as timing (comedy Western, and an epic one at that, too early? too late?) but really it's takes too many bites of the pie, rendering the whole as something resembling a garbled mess. The thin plot is stretched unbearably to fifteen minutes shy of three hours, thrusting a number of character groups to trudge around with a screenplay that ironically - given the temperance/alcoholic basis of story - feels like it was written by an inebriate.

Yet I personally would be a born liar if I said there wasn't a lot to like in the mix. Filmed not just in Technicolor and Panavision, but Ultra Panavision 70 no less! Pic looks terrific, with Surtees bringing the Gallup locales to vivid life, and Bernstein provides another technical highlight with his rambunctious score, big bold brass and percussion thunders around the settings. Some of the comedy works, when the cast get chance to come alive, and even though some aspects no doubt give the PC brigade kittens, the likes of Martin Landau as an Indian called Chief Walks-Stooped-Over are a joy. While for the red blooded among us, the huge running time at least allows for plenty of the positively yummy Remick...

So it's a tough call, I think its harsh to call it a bore, yet it's awfully messy. So with that I sit on the fence, where just one of my butt cheeks gets numb... 5/10

UK Cable viewing.

« Last Edit: June 25, 2017, 07:42:59 AM by Spikeopath » Logged

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Spikeopath
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2017, 06:31:23 AM »

Luckily enough for Western fans who were burnt by THT, Lancaster would make The Professionals a year later  Smiley

« Last Edit: June 25, 2017, 06:33:19 AM by Spikeopath » Logged

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cigar joe
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2017, 11:18:28 AM »

I saw it on it's premier in a Times Square theater. It's a ho hum epic comedy, some stuff works and is hilarious other stuff doesn't. All the different factions converging on a site though works much better than in 1969's MacKenna's Gold. I give it a 6/10

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Jessica Rabbit
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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2017, 12:20:33 PM »

Good review, Spike. Though I agree mostly with what you say - it's not a great movie - I really like it. But a lot of that is because of Bernstein's score. In general Comedy Westerns don't work for me, but this one's a guilty pleasure.

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stanton
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2017, 01:10:34 PM »

I like it too for what it is. An overlong and for that year already old fashioned feeling Hollywood comedy with some satirical aspects. Yes, not everything works, but it is overall entertaining. And mostly fun to watch. 6/10

Viewed as a western, but it is at first a comedy, it is not Sturges' weakest genre contribution. Better than Sergeant's Three (ok that's easy) and also better than Joe Kidd.

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greenbudgie
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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2017, 03:14:45 AM »

I think this is 5/10 too. Burt Lancaster gets all the good lines. But it's not a film that I would want to see again.

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Jessica Rabbit
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2017, 09:05:25 AM »

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for that year already old fashioned feeling Hollywood comedy

Stanton, in the same year there were also The Great Race and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. Love them both, but by 1965 they all must have felt old-fashioned. Now they're fun again.

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Jessica Rabbit
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stanton
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« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2017, 01:18:25 PM »

Stanton, in the same year there were also The Great Race and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. Love them both, but by 1965 they all must have felt old-fashioned. Now they're fun again.

Those Magnificent Men is a childhood favourite, and I still like it. The Great Race suffers also a bit from being overlong.

But many films from Hollywood looked a bit dated in these years. Unfortunately dated Hollywood films came back in style after the 70s.

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Jessica Rabbit
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« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2017, 09:11:54 AM »

"Dated" has never bothered me, otherwise I wouldn't watch Classic films. Smiley

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Unfortunately dated Hollywood films came back in style after the 70s.
Which ones?

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Jessica Rabbit
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Spikeopath
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« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2017, 01:07:42 PM »

Good review, Spike. Though I agree mostly with what you say - it's not a great movie - I really like it. But a lot of that is because of Bernstein's score. In general Comedy Westerns don't work for me, but this one's a guilty pleasure.

Ah the guilty pleasure syndrome   Cool

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Jessica Rabbit
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« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2017, 09:15:12 PM »

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Ah the guilty pleasure syndrome  Cool
I have a lot of those.

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Jessica Rabbit
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