Humphrey Bogart’s character epitomizes what can befall us all: the complete perversion of our sensibilities by unchecked avarice.
American Film Institute Ranking: #30/100 Academy Awards: Best Director and Best Supporting Actor for Jim Huston and Walter Huston — a father-son combo. My Rating:
It was obvious early on what this movie was going to be about: Greed = Bad.
By showing the cards early, I didn’t know if I would be interested, especially if the moral teaching was going to be heavy-handed. My concerns were ungrounded and the movie addressed them with a counterintuitive solution. Instead of using fast-pace or subtlety, Jim Houston takes the approach of a staggered walk, slowly allowing Fred C. Dobbs (played by Humphrey Bogart) descend into is madness over the course of a couple hours.
What this does is make you experience every slow, twisted turn into immorality. This slow-train wreck of a nose-dive makes you squirm, really understanding what greed can do, exceeding my low expectations of what I thought would be an after school special delivery.
The moment you’ve been waiting for finally comes 4/5ths through the movie, but it all seems too late and anti-climatic.
American Film Institutes Ranking: #98/100 Academy Awards: Nominated for several: best picture, actor, screenplay, director, supporting actor. Won for supporting actor (Gene Hackman), Director (Clint Eastwood) and Picture. My Rating:
I’m okay with Westerns. My favorite book of all time happens to be a Western (Lonesome Dove). Older generations who display the red,white and blue at every door and buy cars made only in Detroit view Westerns as a quintessential American representation. The West represents the idyllic egalitarian society with no centralized government and each small community creating their own standards for law and acceptable behavior — no need for big government here!
It all works out for you as long as you are the swashbuckling cowboy and not one of the the characters regelated to the edges such as women, children, seniors, and those not willing to be violent. Unforgiven continues with this deconstruction of the Western narrative, focusing on a protagonist that isn’t glistening with moral righteousness while showing the real toll of vigilante justice. So while Unforgiven is certainly a Western, it tries to butt up against the glorification of the genre.
My problem is that in the process of flipping the script, you lose connection with the characters leaving a resolution that is ultimately unsatisfying.