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Paramount Studios presents
Paint Your Wagon (1969)

"He only looks that way when he's drunk, ma'am."
- Pardner (Clint Eastwood)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: August 02, 2001

Stars: Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg
Other Stars: Harve Presnell, Ray Walston, Tom Ligon, Alan Dexter, William O'Connell, Ben Baker, Alan Baxter, Paula Trueman, Robert Easton, Geoffrey Norman, H.B. Haggerty, Terry Jenkins, Karl Bruck, John Mitchum, Sue Casey, Eddie Little Sky, Harvey Parry, H.W. Gim, William Mims, Roy Jenson, Pat Hawley
Director: Joshua Logan

Manufacturer: PDSC
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material
Run Time: 02h:44m:21s
Release Date: July 24, 2001
UPC: 097360693348
Genre: western

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-A-B+ D+

DVD Review

Well howdy, Pardner. This wasn't quite what I had in mind when I was noting that we didn't have any Clint Eastwood westerns in our review database. Although we do get a town with no name, Clint's role here is far from his Sergio Leone days, as he is even singing! Paint Your Wagon is of course a musical comedy western, penned by writing team Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe (responsible for Brigadoon, Gigi, and My Fair Lady among others) and featuring two of the genre's tough guys (meaning Lee Marvin as the other) in the starring roles. It's about as far as one can get from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and still be called a western. Still, it is a pretty entertaining bit of filmmaking, even though it does run a bit long for some tastes.

A partnership is formed when Ben Rumson (Marvin) meets Missouri farmer Sylvester Newel (Eastwood) (refered throughout the film as Pardner), when Newel's wagon crashes killing his brother. At the funeral, the freshly dug earth reveals gold dust, and a mining town (with no name) springs out of the wilderness. Though Pardner is laid up from his accident and unable to work, Rumson shares his spoils in an even partnership, on the basis that Pardner keep him company, pick him up out of the mud should he get drunk, and honour his debts, which is agreed. In a town of entirely hard drinking males, the arrival of a pair of women to the community causes quite a stir, especially when the man they arrive with, Jacob Woodling (John Mitchum) turns out to be married to both of them. However, all is not peaceable in this arrangement, and the three agree that wife Elizabeth (Jean Seberg - Breathless) will be auctioned off to one of the miners, a fate she is more than willing to accept. When a stumbling drunk Rumson promises to double anyone's bid for the priviledge, he becomes owner of the only woman in town, which sparks up his suspicious and jealous nature in a big way. With the cabin he promised Elizabeth built and his mistrust of his fellow miners growing, there is but one solution to the female situation in No Name City: kidnap some French prostitutes and set up a boomtown! Ben sets off on this quest only to return to find that Pardner and Elizabeth are now in love with one another, but when he decides to bow out of their marriage, Elizabeth suggests instead they come to a new arrangementóshe marry both of them! With the town a booming, and the trio happy, only the arrival of a God fearing preacher and the morality inspired by the arrival of a new family to the region can change their way of life, and the partnerships made in heaven may take a one way trip to hell.

Director Joshua Logan brings another stageplay to screen, as he did with South Pacific and Camelot. Paint Your Wagon is a fun musical western, with plenty of great lines and a nonstandard storyline. Though tame by today's standards, its subject matter was also a bit risqué for the time, with several inferences that may have had censors squirming. Musical numbers pop up with moderate frequency, and while I won't be handing out any awards for the vocal talents of Mr. Eastwood or Mr. Marvin, they still do a decent job with the Lerner and Loewe score (Rita Gordon sang Jean Seberg's parts). The script is great, as is the cinematography, and the supporting cast, including Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian) and Harve Presnell (Fargo), each contributing their own wacky characters. For those who think they'll enjoy a raucus romp in an old west gold-mining town are in for a good time, and that's the truth, Pardner.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in its original 2.35:1 ratio, Paramount not surprisingly delivers a really great looking picture. There are a few spots and scratches in the opening, but for the most part print defects are nonexistent. Colors aren't exactly eye-popping, but still look very good. Detail is fairly well preserved, thankfully not "improved" with edge enhancement. Contrast is a bit hard at times, but not having seen the film before, this could be intentional.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Paint Your Wagon is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround. A French mono track is also included. While I prefered the 5.1 track for its increased spaciousness, I did find that some of the remixed musicals had vocals that didn't blend in as well as the Prologic mix. Dialogue is edgy sometimes, but otherwise sounds very good.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: The film's anamorphic widescreen theatrical trailer is the only extra.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Fun musical wackiness in this tale of a different type of old west. While some may cringe at the thought of "The Man with No Name" crooning to the forest, a non-traditional storyline, fun performances and a host of interesting supporting actors make this an adventure musical that western fans will want in their collection. Light-hearted and somewhat bawdy, Paint Your Wagon delivers the goods.


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