Sunday, July 23, 2017

Late Summer Western #3: The Shooting *** (1966)

One of two films directed by Monte Hellman in 1965 on location in the Utah desert, The Shooting has gained notoriety through the decades as an art house Western.  The minimal story begins with two miners played by Warren Oates and Will Hutchins who discover their friend was shot by an unknown gunman.  They become paranoid since they are in the middle of nowhere and are later visited by a woman (Millie Perkins) who mocks their existence and asks the two men to accompany her to a place called Kingsley.  Along the way they meet up with a stranger named Billy Shear (Jack Nicholson) who also treats everyone with contempt.  No one seems to know where they are going and they are running out of food and water. The cinematography is stunning, creating a real sense of desolation and dread in the landscape. I agree with those who consider the film a Waiting for Godot set in the Old West.  The Shooting is a "trip" movie about aimlessness, a striking slice of cinema from the school of the absurd.

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