RARA-AVIS: lone wolf star

Ned Fleming (ned@cjnetworks.com)
Tue, 15 Jun 1999 00:45:49 GMT

Frederick Zackel wrote:

>Part of the lone wolf mythology is he is willing to sacrifice himself to the
>good of the community. Yes, all heroes do that; soldiers, firemen,
>policemen. But the lone wolf is making all the right choices and stands
>alone when he acts. He risks all. His most powerful weapon is that he can
>walk down these mean streets. At night. Alone. Against the shadows and
>all the evil they contain.


>My favorite Indiana Jones movie is the one where Indy sails up the River of
>Death. Oh, you don't remember seeing it? But that plotline--the hero sails
>up the river of death; will he return?--is the basic quest story.
>What the lady dicks have introduced to the genre is a sense of community.
>They have extended families. For better or for worse they have changed the
>Is that family connection a bad thing? No, I don't think it has to be. In
>the Odyssey Ullyses sails up the river of death (i.e., goes to Hades) and
>meets . . . his mother. She hung herself out of despair of ever seeing her
>son come home.


>It seems to me the essence of hard-boiled is a willingness to sacrifice all,
>even life itself. To consciously and deliberately sail up the river of
>death, knowing you might not come back. That's why there are so few heroes
>and so many of the rest of us.

Such is the power of suggestion that Frederick's post colored my third viewing of the movie "Lone Star" this past weekend. I think the movie qualifies as hardboiled and noir. But, then again, I've read enough definitions of "hardboiled" and "noir" in the last year that I'm wandering around in some kind of pre-Alzheimers fog.

If you haven't seen the movie, you might want to skip reading the rest of this.

The movie fits Frederick's paradigm fairly well: A skeleton is dug up on an abandoned artillery range of a doomed (soon-to-close) army base -- next to a sheriff's (Charlie Wade's) badge. And the current sheriff (Sam Deeds) must travel backwards in time to solve the mystery.

Sheriff Deed's own father (Buddy Deeds) succeeded Charlie Wade. In effect, Sheriff Sam Deeds must go to the abode of the dead (hell) to solve his quest, for he fears his own father killed Charlie Wade. In doing so he must figuratively exhume the body of his own dead father and re-animate him from the memories of those who knew Charlie Wade and Buddy Deeds. Sam Deeds is the lone wolf -- the lone star -- who alone opposes building the new jail, who might not run for sheriff again, who alone digs up the past to find out the truth. The technique director John Sayles uses to juxtaposition the living and the dead in the same scene/setting isn't hokey at all.

The long-dead and buried "secret" of the movie is slickly done and revealed, and even if you know it the movie is still enjoyable, perhaps more so, for then you can concentrate on the build-up and the journey through hell itself.

Kris Kristofferson, who can hardly act and can't sing at all, gives the performance of a lifetime, playing Charlie Wade as one of the baddest dudes in films of the last 10 years.

The movie ends on a forlorn note, though forlorn isn't quite the thing.
(I wanted to say "ennui," but then I looked it up and it doesn't mesh at all. What's the word for that weird feeling in your gut when you're both relieved and sad that something ends the way it does?)

I've short-changed the movie quite a bit here. There are cross-currents and counterpoise that give the movie a good deal of depth.

Oh, and "O is for . . . Ovulation"

# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to # To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to majordomo@icomm.ca.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Mon 14 Jun 1999 - 20:47:24 EDT