Peter Max Version










Who admits to having seen Josh Logan’s Paint Your Wagon when it was released as a roadshow? Do you believe any of your friends if they say they actually sat through all of it when aired on the box? I’ll fess up now: I’ve never been able to. By the umpteenth time Encore aired it, I managed to see most of it, including the conclusion, yet it’s a consistent blur in memory. The thought of Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood and Jean Seberg warbling isn’t so much a curiosity as it is a warning. Logan’s South Pacific is, over all, a worse musical but nothing compares to the indifference of Paint Your Wagon. A huge flop, this is Logan’s swan song. What’s so dumbfounding about him this last time out is that his musical sense went completely hollow, having recorded in-studio chorus numbers lacking any vital connection with the exterior settings, like going to Big Bear Valley and listening to a concert wearing a Bose headset. Eastwood supposedly does his own singing; when hearing “I Still See Elisa” and “I Talk to the Trees,” a good ear wonders if it’s not the voice of Jack Jones secretly mixed in. It’s also been reported Marvin was inebriated throughout much of filming, explaining the excessive loudness of his so-called performance. (According to author Gary Carey in All the Stars in Heaven, Louis B. Mayer, after leaving MGM, accquired the rights to this already lackluster Lerner-Loewe musical in 1952, with the later intention of bringing it to the screen as the first fictional Cinerama production, with Spencer Tracy as its singing star. Paramount, the studio that eventually spent $20 million dollars on what Ethan Mordden in The Hollywood Musical describes as the “first all-talking, no-singing, no-dancing musical,” joined in the original bidding, wanting to make it with Bing Crosby.) John Truscott is the production designer, creating an impressive No Name City; nice opening titles by Donald Stone Martin. In Panavision, with 70mm blowup. (Opening 10/29/1969 at the UA Cinema in Oak Brook, running 20 weeks.)

Oscar nomination: best musical score, original or adaptation (Nelson Riddle).


Text COPYRIGHT © 2002 RALPH BENNER  All Rights Reserved.