The Western Musical That Clint Eastwood Would Rather Forget

If you’ve ever heard of the 1969 “Musical Western” paint your carriagemost likely you only know it The Simpsons.In Season Nine, Homer Rents paint your carriage Family movie night, hoping to see a bloody western like the star of the movie Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood, both are called violent men. The version of The Simpsons is open in media sources, and it appears to be a tense matchup at noon. Homer is disappointed when the cowboys, instead of trying to kill each other, sing songs of friendship. (“Gonna paint our wagon! Gonna paint it well!”) That’s stupid. But its structure is sound. At first, it looks like a typical western, and then it veers sharply into a middle-aged cartoon character’s nightmarish idea of ​​a musical. The purity of its form is undeniable.


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real movie paint your carriageOn the other hand, it’s not like that at all. It’s a confusing amalgam of conflicting intentions. It tries to be a lot of things, but it doesn’t try to be any one of the most important things. That explains a bit when you understand its chaotic production. But you can never really understand a movie like this.

Related Links: The 10 Most Unforgettable Musicals From Hollywood’s Golden Age


‘Paint Your Wagon’ script embodies a clash of styles and eras

The Simpsons parody of 'Paint Your Wagon' starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef
Image via Fox

paint your carriage Originally a musical, the book and lyrics were written by Alan Jay Lerner and music Frederick Lowe.Released in 1951, it was not a big hit, but the duo of Lerner and Loewe went on to achieve great success in the 1950s and 1960s, producing hits such as trip, my fair ladyand Camelot. They also entered the field of film GigiBest Picture of 1958, and the eventual adaptation my fair lady The film won Best Picture in 1964. By 1969, Lerner had already gained extensive experience shooting the production, but he never had much influence on the final project. This is about to change.

The 1960s are often described as the decade that killed Hollywood musicals. There are parallels to the current decline of comic book movies.Audiences lost interest, but studios are still going to spend big bucks hoping to make another hit like this one sound of music.Lerner Convinces Paramount Pictures to Fund Adaptation paint your carriageis one of his few unfilmed stage musicals. But it’s not one of his best works either, and is considered a woefully outdated relic of the 1950s.

To modernize the story, they introduced Paddy Chayefskywho will continue to write network and became a legend, but was in a career lull between his first and second Oscars.After a brainstorming session with Lerner, Chayefsky and the director Joshua Logan, Chayefsky rewrote the script, retaining little from the original except for the setting. The updated story still takes place during the California Gold Rush, a boom town that sprang up after prospector Ben Ramson discovered the mother lode. The 1951 version tells the familiar Romeo and Juliet romance between Ramson’s daughter and a Mexican miner. The filmmakers decided to drop most of the character and keep only Ramson. Played by Lee Marvin, a deranged alcoholic who still pulls the plot by discovering gold. But the two versions of the story immediately diverged. Ramson has no daughters. Instead, he’s a loner, a business partner with a character played by Clint Eastwood, known only as “Padna.” They all fell in love with Elizabeth (Jen Shibao), who came to town as a second wife to live in a dysfunctional polygamous Mormon family. Ramson ends up marrying her, but she falls in love with him and Padna at the same time. At her insistence, the three of them agreed to live together in stable polygamy, which is legal because California is not yet a state. It doesn’t get more modern than this!

Lerner was disappointed with Chayefsky’s draft script (which didn’t leave enough room for his songs) and fired him. Chayefsky eventually dropped his name from the script, always insisting that the finished product contained hardly any of his work.We don’t know much about Chayevsky’s draft paint your carriageexcept that it’s suave enough to lure Clint Eastwood on camera, which is important because Paramount run Charles Bluedaughn insists on big stars.

But when Eastwood later read Lerner’s rewritten draft, he tried to drop the film. While the rewrite retains most of Chayefsky’s lively ideas, it waters down the story with relentless cornball comedy. Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it — Eastwood was persuaded to make the film despite his reservations.

The making of Paint Your Wagon was a slow-motion disaster

Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg and Lee Marvin play central trio in 'Paint Your Wagon'
Image via Paramount Pictures

Joshua Logan was a theater director before directing films. In 1967, he adapted Lerner’s Camelot, The show was widely criticized for looking too much like a screenplay. Lerner didn’t want to make the same mistake again. Camelot It was shot in a studio.Lerner brings Logan back for another collaboration, but he insists paint your carriage Take live shots. It turned out to be a costly decision.

in the story paint your carriage, Ramson finds gold at brother Clint Eastwood’s funeral. “The City Without a Name” is a small town that thrives around gold mining. But, before Elizabeth came along, the town was entirely male. Ramson wins the auction to buy Elizabeth from her ex-husband (never mind – it was her idea), and he becomes paranoid that other men in town are trying to steal her away. So he arranges for a stagecoach of Parisian sex workers to be diverted to his town to keep the other men busy. From here, things snowball and soon the Unnamed City has become a towering sanctuary of sin. The taverns, brothels and casinos of the Unnamed City were all built from scratch in the Oregon wilderness. “We jetted everyone in and out of Oregon, and helicoptered the wives to where they had lunch,” Eastwood recalls of the crazy spending. “$20 million wasted and most of it didn’t even show up on screen!”

That’s the worst part. Although the production team had trouble building a city on a hill, they didn’t get much out of the movie. Throughout filming, Logan wasn’t happy with the decision to shoot on location. Lerner undercut his influence throughout production, questioning his on-set decisions in front of the rest of the crew and trying to get him replaced. Logan’s filmmaking is lackluster throughout, as if he’s trying to prove that leaving L.A. is no good. He’s not right for the job, and that’s most tragically evident in the film’s third-act climax.

After their claims faded, Ramson and Padna had no income. But they can’t leave town because their marriage won’t be tolerated anywhere else. Ramson’s plan is to build a system of tunnels under every pub in town to collect the gold dust that drips from the floor. This system of mines is actually built, and all the sets for the Unnamed City are installed so that they can collapse into the tunnels: a fate reminiscent of what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. Nothing like it has been attempted before or since. But it’s an apathetic doomsday. This is the last day of the tragic production. “When the last building broke in two, we headed for Los Angeles,” Logan wrote in his book, Movie Stars, Real People and Me. He never directed another film.

‘Paint Your Wagon’ Is So Weird And Far From Boring

padna playing guitar
Image via Paramount Pictures

paint your carriage became a symbol of the bloated zombie musical of the late 1960s. Paradoxically, studios are pouring more and more money into musicals as they lose faith in their audiences.matter paint your carriage Most notable is the casting of Marvin, Eastwood and Seberg, none of whom can sing. The film fixes that by having most of the singing done in a sad, lonely, whispering way. These are lonely people, and the song is their quiet despair. This trick only works so many times, and it doesn’t address the more serious sin that the film doesn’t have any dances. (The Simpsons lied).

There’s something odd about this movie trying to be a musical for people who think they hate musicals. The film ends up tonally disjointed in every way, but amidst the chaos, there are frequent gleams of inspiration from the talented people in the cast and crew. It’s easy to get invested in the story and support the strange relationship at the center being resolved, if only because it represents something new. Ultimately, it will be interesting to see the $20 million spent. You can’t waste all this.

But there’s an even stranger attraction. paint your carriage Widely panned by critics of the time, it was also considered the symbolic end of an era of Hollywood musicals with immediate historical significance. The musical’s attempt to appeal to the same audience that it took in as much as $60 million that same year failed. easy rider (The film was shot on a budget of $400,000). Yet if Lerner, Chayefsky, and company can’t be said to have imagined the future of the musical, perhaps they can at least be considered to have imagined the future of the western.

after all the plot paint your carriage both strongly echo mccabe and mrs miller and deadwood, two of the most iconic revisionist Westerns. Like those two works, it reimagines the quintessential Western not as sheriffs and outlaws clashing on dusty streets, but as the march of business into new territory. The protagonist of this story is not a gunman, but an entrepreneur who figures out how to siphon money out of a quasi-urban mining town. And the villains are Capital’s united force, following him to the frontier, violently stealing what he’s built, and eventually sucking the town dry.

paint your carriage Not as clear a vision as the other two masterpieces. But the insane incoherence also allows it to imagine an absurd alternate history, one in which the town, instead of being lured by corporate mining interests, is bled to death by its own drunken and depraved founder through a system of secret tunnels . In her Money review, Pauline Kael sees in these tunnels a metaphor for the studio system hollowing out the music genre. Many of her comments seem relevant today: She asked studios, “If they have so few new ideas that they have to hoard old ones and try to shape them into new shapes, are they still artists?” Is it?” We seem to be experiencing the end of something. But maybe in the future, some movie buffs will be able to sift through our most depraved multi-superhero movies and failed franchise reboots and discover the earliest glimpses of what happened next.

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