LONELY ARE THE BRAVE (1962)
Kirk Douglas is Jack Burns, the personification of the independent cowboy, desperately trying to outrace progress and civilization in this 1962 film adaptation of Edward Abbey’s novel Brave Cowboy. Shot in Albuquerque and the nearby Sandia Mountains — where much of the action of the novel also takes place — the picture, despite a few structural flaws, seems topical in its portrayal of an individual trying to buck societal norms.
In his autobiography, The Ragman’s Son, Douglas called the film his favorite movie and recounts his battle with Universal Studios over the title and his disappointment in the director, David Miller, whose cinematic career included Joan Crawford melodramas and a very weak Marx Brothers film called
Love Happy. Dalton Trumbo, who also scripted Spartacus for Douglas, adapted Abbey’s novel, retaining much of the flavor of a contemporary cowboy battling various elements of the New West, but cutting out much of the political commentary. (In the novel, Burns has declined to register for the draft, making him a fugitive from the federal government. In the movie, we discover he served during the Korean War and won some medals in action.)
According to Douglas’ account, Universal dumped the film into some theaters without any build-up and then pulled it after just a few weeks, killing its chances for box-office success. Gena Rowlands — who Douglas praised as “superb” in the film — has two lengthy scenes as the wife of Douglas’ imprisoned friend. — Robert Nott
Western/drama, 108 minutes, not rated, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, Violet Crown, 3.5 chiles