MOVIE REVIEWS

Last Sunset

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7/10 NR 1hr 52 min

June 6, 1961

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By John Chard May 22, 2017

Well, you see cowboys aren't very bright. They're always broke and generally they're drunk.

The Last Sunset is directed by Robert Aldrich and adapted by Dalton Trumbo from Howard Rigsby's novel Sundown at Crazy Horse. It stars Rock Hudson, Kirk Douglas, Dorothy Malone, Joseph Cotton and Carol Lynley. In support are Jack Elam, Neville Brand & James Westmoreland. The music score is by Ernest Gold, with contributions from Dimitri Tiomkin & Tomás Méndez, and Ernest Laszlo is the cinematographer. It's shot in Eastman Color by Pathe, with the locations for the shoot being Aguascalientes & Distrito Federal in Mexico.

Brendan O'Malley (Douglas) is on the run and drifts into Mexico where he arrives at the home of old flame Belle Breckenridge (Malone). She resides with her drunkard husband John (Cotton) and her daughter Melissa, they are in preparation for a cattle drive to Texas. Hot on O'Malley's heels is lawman Dana Stribling (Hudson) who has a very personal reason for getting him back for justice to be served. Making an uneasy agreement, both men join the Breckenridge's on the drive. As they near Texas the tensions start to mount, not least because Stribling is starting to court Belle and O'Malley is increasingly drawn by her daughter Missy.

Lyrical, contemplative and evocative, three words you wouldn't readily associate with the director of Ulzana's Raid, The Longest Yard and The Dirty Dozen. Yet all three words are very fitting for this underseen Robert Aldrich movie. Although containing many of the basic elements that made up the American Western film's of the 50s, The Last Sunset has a very intriguing screenplay by Trumbo from which to flourish. The story is crammed full of sexual neurosis, yearnings, regret, hate, revenge and forbidden love. If that all sounds very "Greek Tragedy" then that's probably about right, as is the film being likened to a Western done by Douglas Sirk. It is melodramatic, but it does have moments of levity and up tempo action sequences, too. It's a very rounded picture, with very well formed characters, characters very well brought to life by the mostly on form cast. All played out amongst some gorgeous scenic panorama's that Aldrich and Laszlo have managed to make seem as poetic observers to the unfolding drama.

Some of it's odd, and the film is far from flawless (Cotten is poor, Elam & Brand underused), but the little irks are easily forgiven when judging the film as a whole. Lyrical, contemplative and evocative: indeed. 8/10

By John Chard May 22, 2017

Well, you see cowboys aren't very bright. They're always broke and generally they're drunk.

The Last Sunset is directed by Robert Aldrich and adapted by Dalton Trumbo from Howard Rigsby's novel Sundown at Crazy Horse. It stars Rock Hudson, Kirk Douglas, Dorothy Malone, Joseph Cotton and Carol Lynley. In support are Jack Elam, Neville Brand & James Westmoreland. The music score is by Ernest Gold, with contributions from Dimitri Tiomkin & Tomás Méndez, and Ernest Laszlo is the cinematographer. It's shot in Eastman Color by Pathe, with the locations for the shoot being Aguascalientes & Distrito Federal in Mexico.

Brendan O'Malley (Douglas) is on the run and drifts into Mexico where he arrives at the home of old flame Belle Breckenridge (Malone). She resides with her drunkard husband John (Cotton) and her daughter Melissa, they are in preparation for a cattle drive to Texas. Hot on O'Malley's heels is lawman Dana Stribling (Hudson) who has a very personal reason for getting him back for justice to be served. Making an uneasy agreement, both men join the Breckenridge's on the drive. As they near Texas the tensions start to mount, not least because Stribling is starting to court Belle and O'Malley is increasingly drawn by her daughter Missy.

Lyrical, contemplative and evocative, three words you wouldn't readily associate with the director of Ulzana's Raid, The Longest Yard and The Dirty Dozen. Yet all three words are very fitting for this underseen Robert Aldrich movie. Although containing many of the basic elements that made up the American Western film's of the 50s, The Last Sunset has a very intriguing screenplay by Trumbo from which to flourish. The story is crammed full of sexual neurosis, yearnings, regret, hate, revenge and forbidden love. If that all sounds very "Greek Tragedy" then that's probably about right, as is the film being likened to a Western done by Douglas Sirk. It is melodramatic, but it does have moments of levity and up tempo action sequences, too. It's a very rounded picture, with very well formed characters, characters very well brought to life by the mostly on form cast. All played out amongst some gorgeous scenic panorama's that Aldrich and Laszlo have managed to make seem as poetic observers to the unfolding drama.

Some of it's odd, and the film is far from flawless (Cotten is poor, Elam & Brand underused), but the little irks are easily forgiven when judging the film as a whole. Lyrical, contemplative and evocative: indeed. 8/10

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