One thing I’ve learned working on this blog, along with lots of useless information about cowboy movies, is that we all have very personal attachments to certain films. In the end, there are a million reasons to like, or dislike, a movie — with the actual quality of the picture being just one.
Over the last couple years, I’ve enjoyed finding out what you like, and why you like it. And I’m convinced it’s impossible to be completely objective about a film.
Today would’ve been my mom’s 68th birthday. And since I’ve been paying particular attention to One-Eyed Jacks (1961) lately — for reasons we’ll get to later — I’m reminded that she got a big kick out of this film. It was the terrific dialogue and Marlon Brando’s nasal, mumbled Method delivery that she liked, and “I’m sneakin’ by” became a pretty common phrase between us. (This shot of Brando celebrating his birthday — April 3rd, 1959 — on the set of One-Eyed Jacks seems appropriate today. The top photo is by Sam Shaw.)
As a movie-crazy kid, one of the things I loved about One-Eyed Jacks was that everything I read about it was negative. The schedule. The editing. The lackluster box office. The fact that no one could be bothered to keep its copyright up. Even Brando knocked it. I felt like my mom and I were the only people who liked it. A film with a cult of two. And that somehow made this fascinating Western even more fascinating.
Turns out, of course, I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm for the picture. It has other fans, such as Terry Gilliam. “I remember coming to New York and seeing it on 42nd Street and seeing it at one of those flop-house cinemas. And it was on a double bill, and I just sat there, and I think I watched it three times that day, having to sit through this other movie which I can’t remember. I was just transfixed by that film.” (from Terry Gilliam: Interviews)
Quentin Tarantino and Taylor Hackford have also professed their love of One-Eyed Jacks. Hackford even named his son Rio after Brando’s character.
Let’s not forget that this picture sees a Blu-ray release in early November.