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Silent Tongue

2.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A man returns to a charlatan's Old West medicine show to kidnap the sister of his son's dead wife.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jeri Arredondo, Philip Attmore, Alan Bates, Billy Beck, Clay Buckner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: May 3, 2005
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000929UZK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,056 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Silent Tongue" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. C. Walter on November 22, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Sam Shepard, the writer/director of "Silent Tongue," is one of the big names in contemporary American theatre. So it comes as no surprise that his two feature films--also, "Far North"--have a distinctly theatrical tone. General audiences may not have a taste for this, but Shepard's films do reward additional viewings, and both have grown on me in a big way.

"Silent Tongue" is a ghost story which uncovers a disturbing sickness at the heart of the Old West. River Phoenix becomes mentally unhinged when his Native American bride dies in childbirth. This sends his father, Richard Harris, on a journey to try and find another woman for his son. Exhibiting tragically limited imagination, the father returns to the traveling circus where he traded horses for the first woman, and he attempt a second bargain for the woman's sister. In the end, the sister must confront the dead woman's ghost, and we learn the dark secret of their past.

Phoenix is eerily convincing as the mad Talbot Roe, and Richard Harris is uncharacteristic low-key as the world-weary Prescott Roe. My only complaint is Dermot Mulroney who is miscast and unable to make his character's diction convincing.
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In a tribute, a Rolling Stone reviewer suggested this was the quintessential River Phoenix movie. I disagree, he gives a much better performance in 'My Own Private Idaho' but this story is better written. It's not really a western, though it is set in that time and place we nostalgically yearn for, with stark wide open spaces in hues of tan and brown. There's lots of dust and horses and broken people trying to mend their fragile lives. There's even a snake oil salesman and his son, complete with sideshow and assorted freaks. Richard Harris plays a father who loves his son (Phoenix) so much that he will purchase a wife for his sad and lonely child, but when she dies in childbirth, why not purchase her twin sister from the shifty, snake oil hawker who fathered them? Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Phoenix broods over the body of his lost love wrapping her in hides and suspending her body in a dead tree. He will not let her go and her spirit doesn't want to stay. Her soul visits him in visions that become so real to him that he almost shoots himself. He can't or won't do it, to join her would be love, to hold on to her is pure selfishness. Her twin sister knows that the dead are powerful and she agrees to help Harris break the hold his son has on her sister, but then she's outta there. Conceived in rape, she knows that she is a double second class citizen. One, she's a woman, and two she's half white and half native. She has nothing but her wits and a dark opportunity to free herself from her father and his mad schemes. She'll take four horses for her trouble and the hope for a new life. (Even the female actresses, who deliver wonderful performances, are overshadowed by their male co-stars in the marketing of this film.Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape
One of the best. I've read the critics' reviews of Sam Shepard's directorial effort, hogwash. If you don't like what Shepard did in this one, you've missed the point of the movie. You can't roller-skate in a buffalo herd! There are two tragedies to this film: one, it has gone so unnoticed as a whole; two, Sheila Tousey has gone so unnoticed. I believe this is the greatest Native American actress. Couple this with Mr. Bates, Harris, Mulroney, Pheonix, Shepard and Ms. Arredondo, and it was a loser in any way??????
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Format: DVD
Regional encoding is a sly device. People in the U.S., for instance, who want to see Sam Shepard's 1994 film 'Silent Tongue' will have to watch this bottom-of-the-barrel, pan-and-scan frisbee thrown out by Lions Gate. Meanwhile, folks in Germany have a decent 2.35:1 transfer with Region 2 encoding, which excludes most interested U.S. consumers.

Lions Gate. These folks are getting worse, more brazen in their lack of integrity. I mean, consider their cynical chop-and-dub job on the new release 'High Tension,' or their heavy promotion and wide distribution of garbage like 'House of 1000 Corpses' and 'Confidence' and simultaneous neglect of acclaimed films like 'Stevie' and 'May.'

The expense associated with giving consumers a 2.35:1 transfer is only marginally above that of a 1.33:1 transfer. The Lions Gate people are clearly bottom-line bean-counters who we must all hope will go bankrupt and disappear into a pile of ashes, if there's any justice in the world. Lot 47, Cowboy Pictures... it's the good guys who usually die, while rotters like Lions Gate live on with an undeserved longevity.
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Format: DVD
Irishman Richard Harris played a Western adventurer many times, including the successful A Man Called Horse franchise. In Silent Tongue he's the patriarch of a family so dysfunctional that he has to buy wives for his son, played by River Phoenix (the first wife dies and the second one, sister of the first wife, proves uncooperative.) Unfortunately for Harris' character (a horse trader), his dealings are with the owner of a traveling circus/medicine show, played by Alan Bates. His family proves even more dysfunctional, complete with a jealous half brother of the 2 wives.
If that were not enough drama, it seems that dead wife number one won't stay dead as she haunts anyone who trespasses on her terrain. A theme of irony runs deep, especially as all the main characters end up with less than they had bargained for.
A case of the Wild West meets The Twilight Zone, with the emphasis on the latter.
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