In the only film that Marlon Brando ever directed, One Eyed Jacks, he and Karl Malden play a pair of amiable bank robbers who are operating south of the border. During a robbery the rest of the gang is killed and Brando's horse is shot from under him. With the Federales closing in there's no way one horse could carry them both as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid later found out. Malden elects to go for fresh mounts, only Malden doesn't come back. The Federales capture Brando and he's off to do a stretch in a Mexican prison.
Fast forward several years and Brando busts out of prison and goes north of the border. He and his fellow escapee Larry Duran fall in with robbers Ben Johnson and Sam Gilman. Johnson brings Brando an irresistible proposition. A bank in Monterey, California that he says will be easy to rob. And the best part, Karl Malden has gone respectable and is the sheriff there.
Malden's not only respectable, he's a married guy now, married to Katy Jurado and stepfather to the wide eyed Pina Pellicer. A good line of talk and the sight of Pellicer ease Brando's resolve for revenge.
In this stylistic western that is good, but doesn't quite make it to classic standards, Brando has managed to bring Hamlet out west. It took Hamlet the whole play to finally settle with his intended target and it takes Brando just about as long. His character Rio moves in fits and starts like Hamlet, gets sidetracked a few times as well like the melancholy Dane. Hamlet's target is his stepfather who killed his real father and usurped the throne and it's no coincident that Malden's character is named Dad.
Brando wisely cast his film with folks from previous westerns who look quite at home on the range if he sometimes doesn't. My best moment is Brando outwitting that lout of a deputy Malden has, Slim Pickens to affect a jail break.
Marlon Brando's legion of fans should find One Eyed Jacks acceptable and other western aficionados will like it as well.
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