Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Outrage


As I said in my review of Rashomon, this is a much-maligned remake of that Japanese masterpiece by Akira Kurosawa. And it’s really not all that bad. Paul Newman plays the outlaw, here a Mexican bandito with maybe a little too much of an accent. Claire Bloom and Lawrence Harvey are the woman and her murdered (or was he?) husband. The three gathered at the Rashomon gate, here a dilapidated train station in Silver Gulch, inundated by rain. Edward G. Robinson is the cynic, Howard Da Silva is the woodcutter (here a prospector), and …. wait for it … William Shatner is the disillusioned priest. Director Martin Ritt and cinematographer James Wong Howe work very hard to equal the wonderful look of the original, but never quite manage to do it. The story was changed in a few ways that make pretty good sense, because the motivations and attitudes of the Japanese sensibility would not have played well to a western audience. I had no problem with most of them. The only change that I didn’t like involved the trial. In the original, we never see the judge, and never even hear the questions the witnesses are asked. This puts us in the position of judge. Who do you believe? Do you believe any of them? But I realize that also would have been pretty puzzling to a western audience in 1951. Still, it lessens the impact. Other than that, I wish people would stop beating up on this small, heartfelt movie.