If not for Marlon Brando’s excesses — months turning into years of production and a budget that doubled — One-Eyed Jacks (1961) would be a shoe-in for 50 Westerns From The 50s. I may be a bit in the minority on this one, but I think it’s a great, great picture.
It’s also an endless source of geeky Hollywood trivia:
The last film released in Vistavision.
The first, and only, time Brando climbed into the director’s chair.
Stanley Kubrick left the film (and quickly ended up on Spartacus).
Rod Serling and Sam Peckinpah (both uncredited) are among the writers.
Editing took over a year.
Brando’s original cut was something like five hours long.
Even by Timothy Carey standards, Timothy Carey is over the top.
All that time, all that work, all that money — and the finished film ended up falling into the public domain. Thanks to that, One-Eyed Jacks on DVD has become an odd form of legalized gambling. You find it for a couple bucks, you buy it, and with your fingers crosses, plug it into your player.
And more often than not, the house wins.
I recently picked it up from Echo Bridge (right), part of a four-movie, five-dollar set. It’s the best DVD of One-Eyed Jacks I’ve seen, which sure ain’t saying much. At least it’s letterboxed. It doesn’t come close to the old laserdisc (also letterboxed), which I’m glad I hung onto. Charles Lang’s Oscar-nominated Vistavision cinematography deserves so much better than these cheeseball DVDs.
If you come across this set (mine came from Target), you might as well pick it up. Kansas Pacific (1952) and The Outlaw (1946) look pretty good. Deadly Companions (1961) is pan and scan, however.
UPDATE: A bit of news here.