Pasatiempo - - RANDOM ACTS -

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

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