Paint Your Wagon (1969)

mpw-59619Genre: Comedy/Musical

Rating: PG

Director: Joshua Logan

Running Time: 166 minutes

Main Cast: Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin

You wouldn’t call Paint Your Wagon the best musical film to grace the screens but as a casual movie to watch on a night in, it works.

Paint Your Wagon follows a Michigan farmer and a prospector who form an unlikely partnership and the film follows the adventures of them and the gold mining town that has established itself in the mining country of California. Cue the drinking, gambling, some singing and a bit of gold mining, which cultivates into Paint your Wagon.

At the time of its release in 1969, there was doubt shadowing over the casting of Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood as the lead singing roles in the film and I can see why that was so.

Marvin’s singing voice is croaky and isn’t an appealing voice to listen to when he is singing but it adds to how the film feels, which is a little rough around the edges and doesn’t take everything seriously. Listening to his song “Wand’rin Star” is in my opinion made better by this croaky voice and adds to his “always wanting to be on the move” character, which is what the song is about.

Eastwood’s singing voice is passable and less of a cringe then Marvin’s, and still has its moments to shine, especially during his solo song in “I Talk to the Trees”. Like Marvin’s “Wand’rin Star” rendition, Eastwood’s version of “I Talk to the Trees” is a joy to listen to.

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Marvin and Eastwood make an unlikely partnership – source Paramount

Paint Your Wagon was adapted from the stage musical of the same name by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe. Since the films release Paint Your Wagon has only been produced into a musical again 3 times, in 2004, 2007 and 2015.

Songs from the stage show were transferred over to the film, which popularized them. Songs such as “Wand’rin Star”, “I Talk to the Trees” and “They Call the Wind Maria”, were wonderful to listen to and are uplifting and catchy songs, that are combined with choreographed scenes that work for the dumb but at the same time serious film that director Joshua Logan was trying to move from the stage to the silver screen. It’s scenes like this and other musical scenes that make this film such a joy to watch. Which makes it seem like it was a successful adaption of the stage show, which Logan should be proud of.

Its abundance of a narrative structure is something that suits this movie and makes it what it is. It’s all about the men in “No Name Town”, their adventures and their ups and their downs.

But Logan should be proud of his film, the music works, the scenes work, the set design works, the abundance of narrative structure and the go with the flow attitude is what makes this film a worthy watch. It’s a casual film that will make you want to sing, laugh and to smile at the stupidity it brings. Well worth a watch if you are stuck for ideas of films to watch .

The Front Row Opinion

★★★½

Here is the Trailer for Paint Your Wagon and don’t forget to like The Front Row Reviewer on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @thefrontrowreviewer

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