Larry McMurtry's Streets Of Laredo
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Tommy Lee Jones was the perfect physical embodiment of hard-bitten Texas Ranger Woodrow Call. A small man, ramrod straight with a ferocious temper and will of iron that made him SEEM like a bigger man. But TLJ didn't make this trip for whatever reason. Instead, we have James Garner taking over as Woodrow, and he IS a big man and inately likeable. No matter, Garner is too good an actor not to win you over, and we quickly adjust to him as an older, more tired, laconic, but still mean as hell Woodrow Call.
Peaeye is now Sam Shepard and Lorena is Sissy Spacek and she has passed by all her would-be suitors and married the taciturn Ranger, become a school teacher, and together they have 5 children. Peaeye is called out of domesticity by Woodrow to chase down a teenage psychopathic killer, Joey Garza, with a sidetrip to chase down another bad bad man named Mox Mox whose specialty is burning men, women, children & animals alive for the fun of it.
And so it begins, with much emphasis on character and wild "characters" and with a casual understanding of the hard lives and brutality of the Texas of that time.
If you liked Lonesome Dove, you will like this. The cast changes were made with excellent people stepping into the familiar roles, and you will soon accept them and be caught up in the story. If you didn't like Lonesome Dove, too bad for you, and you definitely will want to skip this.
Firstly, the cast is sublime. James Garner, always a vastly underrated actor creates a stoic, yet tragic Call.His final scene (don't worry I won't give it all away)is at once heart breaking and filled with a quiet hope. His performance is all about what film acting aspires: he moves mountains without words. The rest of the cast is on equal footing with Garner (who deserved at least something of an Emmy nod) Playwright Sam Shepard's Pea Eye, although losing much of Tim Scott's Bentonesque forlorn rube, is filled with earthy heroism and poetry. Sissy Spacek as the whore re-encarnated as a schoolmarm Lorena produces the tough backbone needed to survive the Texas prairie. Comedian George Carlin's finely drawn panhandle scamp solidifies the theory that the border between comedy and tragedy is narrow at best. These are just a few of the excellent standouts in a sound ensemble.
Secondly is the very narrative itself. It plays like a Sunday funeral dirge- ever aware of the passing of an era, yet peering on into a glimmering future of optimism and hope. In McMurtry's world everyone has a shot at redemption. Grace isn't free but it is availble to all willing to run the gauntlet who have at least a pure heart. The evil villians are evil and deserving of damnation and the good, although pure of heart are not pure of deed.
This film is already mostly forgotten by the minions,but richly deserving of an audience. Enjoy and savor.
The cast is solid, if not spectacular. James Garner is a poor substitute for Tommy Lee Jones' Captain Woodrow F. Call, but has enough range to make the role believable. Sam Shepard brings a quiet dignity to the character of Pea Eye Parker, while Sissy Spacek as the prostitue-turned-teacher/housewife Lorena Parker nags and gripes through the entire film. Sonia Braga is brilliant as Maria Garza, a complex woman whose hatred for Call and concern for her outlaw son cannot overcome a true heart of gold.
Yet it's the second tier of characters that makes STREETS OF LAREDO entertaining (much like the book). George Carlin does a wonderful job as Billy Williams, an aging, almost blind frontiersman; Wes Studi as Famous Shoes, the Kickapoo tracker, delivers delightful one-liners; Ned Beatty is hysterical as the grizzled old coot Judge Roy Bean; Kevin Conway totally evil as Mox Mox, the manburner; and Randy Quaid steals the show as John Wesley Hardin, a cold-blooded, whiskey-sippin' gunslinger with a philosophy all his own.
STREETS OF LAREDO recreates McMurtry's harsh, compelling story and delivers it with the all the vigor of a runaway mare. While it doesn't come close to "Lonesome Dove," this film still stands admirably on its own.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
James Garner has been one of my favorite actors. This is a well acted story that was enjoyable to watch.Published 11 days ago by RobR
Its okay I guess. I don't really like it that much. I don't though find it quite as interesting as the first 2. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great movie. If you like Lonesome Dove you will like this movie.Published 2 months ago by John L Marshall