User Reviews (112)

Add a Review

  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is the only film that Marlon Brando directed. It's easy to understand why no producers would let him get near a camera afterward. It's expensive to expose film, and while Brando the director would argue with Karl Malden the actor, the cameras would roll philosophically along, exposing the rehearsals, the arguments, the conversations about the weather, the new styles in men's clothing, and the conundrum of mind/body dualism. It cost a fortune -- and the result is a long, colorful Western with a conventional revenge plot.

    By "conventional", I mean that the usual fallacies apply. Whose gun is faster than whose? A clip on the jaw or a whack on the head renders a man unconscious for as long as the plot requires. A dozen men galloping after two fleeing bandits fire their pistols wildly although they're a quarter of a mile behind their quarry.

    It's not a BAD movie. It's just hard to assess. The location shooting around the Monterey Peninsula in California is rich in texture and exquisite, as is the location itself -- or was, before it turned into Disneyland. Hugo Friedhofer's romantic score is appealing if overused. Brando must have had the cast improvising all over the place and in every instance it seems obvious and awkward. You'll notice the scenes when they come around.

    The story, briefly, is that Brando is betrayed by his fellow bank robber, Malden, in Mexico. After five years in the Sonoran pen, Brando escapes and seeks revenge on Malden, who has now become civilized and is a popular sheriff with a nice Mexican wife and stepdaughter in Monterey. They shake hands, both faking. Brando spitefully seduces and impregnates the stepdaughter, Pina Pellicer. And when the opportunity presents itself, with the townspeople behind him, Malden reveals his barbaric side, bull whips Brando, and smashes his gun hand. A final shootout resolves some of the issues, but not all.

    It's far from Brando's best performance. He says little, glowers a lot, and blinks reflexively. When he's facing someone down, his feet are in the first ballet position, and when he walks he puts one foot in front of the other. He must leave not two parallel sets of footprints but a single trail of two prints, one on top of the other.

    And when you get right down to it, he's a pretty rotten guy. He lies to most of the people he meets, and for the worst of reasons. In the last scene, he rides off romantically into the white dunes of Monterey, leaving behind a winsome young Mexican girl whom he has knocked up out of spite for someone else. And this in a culture where there are only two kinds of women -- Madonnas, who bring their hymens to the party, and whores, for whom anything goes. "I'm off to Oregon but I'll be back for you some day -- maybe, if I find it convenient. So long, baby."

    Slim Pickens gives a good performance as Lon, "you tub of guts," "you gob of spit." But the best performances are turned in by Karl Malden and his family -- Katy Jurado as the wife, and Pina Pellicer as the slender and beautiful stepdaughter. Much of their dialog is in Spanish. (Both actresses were from Mexico City.) Pellicer, in particular, is bewitching.

    The movie may have wasted a lot of money but it's by no means a complete waste of time. You'll have to judge for yourself.
  • I found this film quite remarkable on many levels. For one, it was the debut for Brando as director (and his only film direction since). Reportedly, it was taken after Kubrick left due to altercations. Well, this time, Brando has one foot in front of the camera, as well as one behind it. He does a great, solid job. In fact, this film never looked awkward or misguided -- it felt like an intelligent western helmed by an Anthony Mann or Raoul Walsh. To further boost the professional polish of the film, there is cinematographer Charles Lang (Magnificent Seven, How the West Was Won).

    Within this polished piece of work, the muscle of the film is found in the wonderful character study. Here, the characters, like in many great stories, are complex, dark, tempermental. Although the film is about the hero's(or anti-hero's) thirst for revenge on a man who done him wrong, there's a romance in the film that is truly tender and fateful.

    The magnet in this film would have to be Brando. (Karl Malden is great too). Brando's understated performance is of the subtle type, using his famous darting eyes to penetrate the characters and the viewer. He's one of my favorite all-time actors.

    As with all great films, One-Eyed Jacks is a quiet masterpiece, displaying what every good film needs: great script, powerful acting, layered characterization, and be technically-sound.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    'One-Eyed Jacks' might be considered the most self-consciously Western of the sixties, and possibly of all time... It contains undoubted visual attributes, gorgeous photographic sequences of an immense sandy desert, and panoramas of the spectacular California coast... Not often does one get to see the sea in a Western... Another of the film's great assets is its beautiful music...

    'One-Eyed Jacks' is slow, but very tough, realistic and softly romantic... The picture has excitement and violence...

    Brando summons all the reserve of anger, inner ambivalence, and emotional complexity in his nature... As a cowboy, he is tough, cunning, soft-spoken, sentimental, vicious, and occasionally masochistic... He plumbs dark reserves of desolation and revenge with an inner ferocity that had always been a part of him but had never before emerged full-force... As a director, he is meticulous, with a keen eye for spectacular outdoor cinematography, and an instinctive sense for the visual expression of inner conflicts...

    Karl Malden, whose surface friendliness and affability usually concealed either weakness or malice or both, is excellent as the ambitious, determined outlaw, and the volatile, treacherous, arrogant sheriff whose last poisonous spill: "You'll get a fair trial, and then I'm gonna hang you, personally.'

    'One-Eyed Jacks is largely a story of vengeance... The film begins with two American outlaws operating in Mexico... Rio (Brando), a happy-go-lucky man who considers himself a Don Juan, and Dad Longworth (Karl Malden), a crooked man looking for the opportunity to settle down...

    They raid banks with real ease and spend their leisure time drinking and courting women... Rio appears as a somewhat cultured bandit with a weakness for aristocratic young ladies... He gives one of them his most "precious" possession, his mother's ring...

    The Mexican police trail the pair and almost catch them at their lovemaking, but Rio and Dad fight their way out to the desert... The mounted police follow and the bandits are eventually trapped in the hills with one of their horses shot... Rio determines to stay... Dad promises to return with a fresh horse, but, tempted by two sacks of gold, he never come back...

    Rio is captured and spends five years of his life in a brutal Mexican prison, until he makes an escape, with the company of a friend called Modesto (Larry Duran).

    The embittered Rio is now a man bent on revenge... He learns in one Cantina that his ex-partner is the sheriff of a town called Monterey, and has taken himself a Mexican wife with a teen-age daughter... So he goes to visit him...

    A guilt-ridden Dad finds Rio pleasant and apparently willing to forget past differences... He presents his family, and invites Rio to stay for supper...

    Rio is in league with two bandits, Bob Amory (Ben Johnson) and Harvey Johnson (Sam Gilman), and they have come to Monterey to steal a bank... They grow impatient, but Rio assures them of his intention not only to rob the bank but to kill the sheriff as well...

    Obviously, Longworth is not completely convinced about his friend, and becomes uneasy when Rio and his step-daughter show a romantic interest in one another... He well remembers Rio's past amorous adventures and he has no wish for anything that will delay Rio in Monterey...

    The town engages in a fiesta, with the bank not planning to open for several days... While the respected sheriff joins the townspeople in their festivities, Rio seduces the tender Louisa...

    The next morning, in a saloon, Rio approaches a drunk mistreating one of the house girls and knocks the man down... The drunk reaches for a shotgun and tries to shoot Rio in the back... But Modesto (as Bronson in 'Jubal') helps save Rio from the blast... The resultant outbursts Longworth to put his grisly double-cross into effect...

    He takes Rio into the street and arrests him with the help of his deputies... He ties him to a horse rail, flogs him with a whip, smashes his right hand with a rifle butt, puts him on his horse and drives him out of town...

    Rio retreats to a small fishing village on the coast with his partners and nurses himself back to health... Louisa visits him at his place to tell him she is in love... Rio's eyes are full of hate against her step father... He is entirely blind in his determination for revenge... Louisa wants him to forget, to leave his dark past for a brighter future... She leaves without mentioning she is expecting a baby...

    For over a period of six weeks Rio practices with his gun in an intent to regain the use of his hand... Amory and Johnson grow impatient, and decide to make their own move... From here the action is carefully builds towards an explosion...

    A carefully chosen supporting cast augmented the proceedings in fine style:

    • Katy Jurado repeats her role of the loving and understanding mother...


    • Ben Johnson plays the unscrupulous cowardly thief who avoids Brando's fury...


    • The gentle Pina Pellicer does her earnest best to temper the intensities of her man...


    • Slim Pickens plays the revolting deputy intimidated by an empty Derringer..


    Brando's 'One-Eyed Jacks' comes on as taught and tight, acted with deep feeling and intense concentration... Brando and Malden play largely a stylistic battle...
  • One-Eyed Jacks not only is a superb Western, one of my all-time favorites, it is also an excellent Oedipal drama that moves beyond the bounds of genre into the mytho-poetic. Brando and Karl Malden both turn in outstanding performances, and the supporting cast, featuring Slim Pickens, Ben Johnson and Katy Jurado, is wonderful.

    Incidentally, the featured user comment "The Lost Eye, The Lost Ear" by tedg is erroneous: Stanley Kubrick was fired from the picture, tentatively titled "A Burst of Vermillion," BEFORE he was called on by Kirk Douglas, who had an option on his services as part of the contract for "Paths of Glory," to replace the fired Anthony Mann on "Spartacus." Kubrick, who had increasingly become fed up with the snail-pace progress on developing the script due to Marlon Brando's eccentric work methods, had wanted to cast Spencer Tracy in the role of Dad Longworth, but Brando was adamant about Karl Malden filling the role. According to one account, a frustrated Kubrick has asked Brando: "Marlon, I don't know what this picture is about."

    "It's about the $400,000 I've paid Karl Malden."

    Kubrick, according to the account, said he could not work under those conditions and quit the picture. (Another account holds that Brando overheard Kubrick tell one of the producers that they'd have to keep Brando away from the script if they were ever to make the shooting date. Brando then fired him.) Officially, the press release said that Kubrick had resigned in order to work on "Lolita," the then infamous Nabokov novel he and his producer partner James Harris (also under contract to Kirk Douglas) had recently acquired.

    "One-Eyed Jacks" began shooting in late 1958 (whereas "Spartacus" began shooting in early 1959) and went months over schedule and millions over budget, being shot in the expensive VistaVision process that cost 50 cents a foot in late 1950s prices. Brando reportedly shot hundreds of thousands of feet of footage as he sought inspiration for both himself and his actors, particularly the emotionally fragile Pina Pellicer, the young Mexican actress who had just set out on her tragically abbreviated career. It is said that Karl Malden always calls his beautiful Los Angeles home "The House That 'One-Eyed Jacks' Built" due to the small fortune in over-time he made from the film.

    Incidentally, Sam Peckinpah wrote the first draft of the screenplay, based on the novel "The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones," a fictionalized retelling of the life of Billy the Kid. Later, Peckinpah would incorporate similar material such as the jailhouse scenes into his retelling of the Billy the Kid legend, "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid." In a PLAYBOY interview, Peckinpah explained that he was fired by Brando as Peckinpah had written Rio, the protagonist, as a killer as Billy the Kid was a killer in real-life and Brando would not play such a character.

    The film took over a year to edit after principal photography ended in 1959. Eventually, the studio took the film away from Brando and recut it to their own tastes. Brando reportedly did not object, becoming fed-up with editing after spending so much time trying to perfect his film. He did complain, after the fact, that the studio cut took away the moral ambiguity he sought for his character. Brando said that all the characters in the film but Dad Longworth, the ostensible heavy, are two faced -- "one-eyed jacks," with one face on top, the public face, and another face that is hidden. Although Rio accuses Dad of being a "one-eyed jack," to Brando, Dad was the only one who was honest in the film.

    In Brando's cut, Dad's last shot meant for Rio hits his step-daughter Louisa instead, killing her and thus leaving Rio with nothing in the end. The studio used the alternative ending where Rio and Louisa have an emotional parting at the beach, and Rio promises to return to her.

    In a development that seemingly foreshadows his future personal life, Brando had an affair on-set with Pina Pellicer, who later committed suicide. Their scenes together are quite affecting as they are emotionally true.
  • From IMDb trivia:

    Marlon Brando's first cut of the film was allegedly 5 hours long. He was reportedely unhappy with the final product, despite its box-office success. "Now, it's a good picture for them [Paramount]," he said upon its release, "but it's not the picture I made... now the characters in the film are black-and-white, not gray-and-human as I planned them."

    Hand it to Brando to be dissatisfied with a film because he didn't manage to make it as long as he wanted to. Regardless of what Brando thought, this is a really fine Western and a unique one, too - it seems fresh and "new," like a Cool Man's West or something. Having Brando (when he was still looking fairly trim) in the lead role certainly gives it a certain glamor and the story itself - and execution - is great.

    Overall I wish Brando had made another film after this but to the best of my knowledge this is really the only true film he ever made. If he was just trying to prove he could direct, he did - even if the film has its flaws, it's far from bad. In fact, it's very, very good - and extremely entertaining.

    4.5/5
  • In Sonora, Mexico in 1880 , Rio (Marlon Brando , the character of Rio originally was based on Billy the Kid), his pal Dad Longworth (Karl Malden) and a third man, Doc (Hank Worden) are robbing a bank. As the bandits escape from the town with a loot . The bandits flee but the Mexican mounted police trail the bunch to the mountains . The mounted police follow and trap the bandits atop a desert hill (Death Valley that bears remarkable resemblance to Almeria desert where were filmed lots of Spaghetti) , with one of their horses shot . Their only option is for one of them to ride their single horse to a little post down the canyon and return with two fresh mounts . But Dad double-crosses him and flees . Rio is detained and locked in Sonora Prison but five years later he breaks out . Then Rio seeks vengeance against his former friend Dad who lives now as a sheriff married to a Mexican woman (Katy Jurado) and an adopted daughter (Pina Pellicer who sadly committed suicide a few years later) .

    Riveting Western with psychological tones is stunningly performed , richly photographed and well directed , though overlong . Marlon Brando took over the reigns of filmmaking by first and only time . Very good performances from main duo : Brando as an obstinate revenger and Karl Malden who steals the show as his double-dealing former partner . Superb support interpretations from Ben Johnson , Timothy Carey , and Slim Pickens , Katy Jurado , both of whom a few years later played as an intimate couple in ¨Pat Garret and Billy the Kid¨. Lively and adequate musical score by Hugo Friedhofer . Striking cinematography by Charles Lang , being Paramount's last release in VistaVision and filmed on location in California , the following places : Cypress Point, Pebble Beach,Death Valley National Park, Monterey Peninsula,Pebble Beach, Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, Seventeen Mile Drive, Warner Ranch, Calabasas, California, USA.

    Marlon Brando's inexperience behind the camera was obvious on set , he took the direction from Stanley Kubrick, who originally was slated to direct the film. He shot six times the amount of footage normally used for a film at the time , he was indecisive in his only filmmaking effort and ran extremely overlong in getting the film finished , in spite of the problems , the film resulted to be visually striking and with interesting character study . Marlon Brando's first cut of the film was allegedly five hours long. He was reportedly unhappy with the final product, despite its box-office success , Paramount eventually took the film away from him and re-cut it as Marlon Brando's original cut of the movie was over five hours long . Rating : Better than average despite troubles during filming and the result is a terrific outing in this Western genre .
  • Although this movie probably suffered as a result of cost overruns/studio shenanigans, I would certainly put it in my top 20 westerns, probably knocking at the top 10. This is the only western I've ever seen that takes place in Monterey. I would *JUMP* at the chance to see Brando's 5 hour version. Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens were excellent as was the whole cast. When Brando gets fired up; watch out !

    Brando's first effort as a director was excellent. Too bad he lost his taste for it; I don't think we got as much mileage out of his fine talent as we should have in later years.
  • Prison escapee Brando (wearing only slightly less eye makeup than Liz Taylor in "Cleopatra") sets out to punish ex-friend Malden, but takes time out to romance Malden's step-daughter in this adult psychological western. The film was started by Stanley Kubrick, but when he took a hike, Brando stepped in to finish directing the film (his only effort behind the camera.) Several things about the film are striking. One is the dust/sand. This is a dusty, sandy movie! Even "Lawrence of Arabia" may not have had this much dust a' blowin'. Also unusual is the setting (oceanside.) Then there is the attention to the psyche. Rare for an early '60's western, the characters' thoughts and motivations are examined quite fully. Another striking feature is the parade of posed, extended shots of Brando merely staring. One might call these vanity shots.....especially if the subject of them is also directing the film! He also has a tendency to stick his behind and crotch in front of the camera. The story has a beginning, a middle and an end, but sometimes getting to them takes a while. The movie is just plain too long. It's not that it isn't compelling, but a few judicious cuts would have made it EXTREMELY compelling. Brando does a decent job (if one can understand all his patented mumbling), but Malden is the revelation. People familiar with him only from American Express commercials and "The Streets of San Francisco" will be amazed at the range he offers here. He is so much more menacing and sinister than most will remember him having been before. It's neat to see the two former costars of "A Streetcar Named Desire" square off. Another good performance comes by way of Pickens (who would later reunite with Malden in the deadly "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure".) He is a very effective redneck deputy. There's some nice work by relatively unknown actress Pellicer as Malden's step-daughter. Though her voice in her first scene seems inappropriately low, she improves throughout and does a fine job. Jurado has less to do as her mother, but still scores. Brando has a few sidekicks along for the ride. Johnson does well as a ruthless wanted man and Gilman (a costar in no less than five other Brando films) is okay. The film has some great scenery and some strong music. It's worst detriment is it's length which bogs down the sometimes slight story.
  • Ben Johnson is mesmerizing in this picture; his natural ease with

    screen acting was well-honed by this time and he has a

    confidence, a greasy smoothness, in the part of Bob Amory that he

    hadn't displayed up to this point. Perhaps it was because he was

    working with two stellar actors from the method school that

    spurred him to give them a run for their money. Or perhaps he was

    more relaxed due to his extensive experience working in westerns

    (or because he was one of the only authentic cowboys on the set).

    Nevertheless, his contribution is equal to the leads, and far above

    everyone else. And that's so small feat. Before Kubrick had left the

    production, he obviously installed several of his favorite players:

    Slim Pickens, Tim Carey, Elisha Cook Jr in supporting roles. Each

    same part makes a significant contribution to the complexity and

    charm of the story. But Johnson rises above them all. His snake- rattling Amory is just as pathetic as he is creepy. The scene in

    which he chickens out of a gun duel with Brando is electrifying,

    mostly due to the ambiguity in Johnson's close-ups. Watching it,

    you're not quite sure if the character is too stupid to back down or

    just plain chilled to the bone with fear.
  • Originally a project for Stanley Kubrick and then went into the hands of Brando, this is not your everyday Cowboy yarn. It's very surprising that the direction so well crafted and flawless for a first time director. The film is a kind of "Old friends turns true enemies" (obvious that this film was the inspiration for Sam Peckinpah western "Pat Garret and Billy the kid" but Brando's is much much better.) with Brando as the Betrayed Rio and Karl Malden in his most nasty. Also film features the lovely actress Pina Pellicer as Brando love interest. The scenery is a real eye candy and the score is wonderful. It's unacceptable that such a classic known by so few people these days. Watch this underrated classic - you won't be disappointed. I rate this a 10/10.Recommended
  • Maybe it's the fact it's carelessly fallen into the public domain, and that people can only see it now on awful quality knock off DVD's, maybe it's because it was directed by it's star Marlon Brando who had never directed before (or since), but I really can't understand why this movie isn't considered anything less than an out and out classic.

    With the exception of only two or three I cannot stand the stoic American westerns of the 40's and 50's and always preferred the more anti-establishment and infinitely more stylish Italian westerns, but man 'One Eyed Jacks' definitely sits at a fascinating place between the two.

    I'm not sure how much of Peckinpah's script or Kubrick's ideas made it into what was eventually Brando's film but it's definitely easy to make an argument that their marks (be it directly through the script or just through influencing Brando) are definitely there.

    It has all the things that makes the BEST Spaghetti Westerns so great, a story that is uncomplicated (it's just a revenge tale) but at the same time takes no easy or obvious turns - rather than shoot his prey straight up Brando's character makes a much more protracted and fascinating game of his 'revenge'. And the reason for this (and this in part where I think Kubrick's ideas may have come in) is that this is not JUST a two dimensional story of settling scores at the end of a gun. The relationship between Karl Malden and Marlon Brando just bristles with possibility (again like the best Spaghetti Westerns and UNLIKE a John Ford western) you don't know where it's going to go. They are, more than once in the movie, allies then enemies and NEITHER of them is stupid.

    And as far as Brando's film-making ability goes, his struggle behind the camera might be well documented now, and he has even written this edit off as not being the film he intended, but the direction here is not even close to amateurish. I really don't think there are many American directors in 1960 who would hold quite so long and so beautifully on Karl Malden as he considers betraying Brando for the first time. I got chills on Brando's arrival up the road to Malden's estate, and the fantastic hold on Malden's face, again long and perfectly acted, as he watches this potential angel of death draw closer. It is obvious in that moment that this is a meeting he has been in a way anticipating and wondering about for many years - and never known what it would mean. Then there's the meeting between Brando and Malden through prison bars where, with the tables turned, Malden declares he will hang Brando himself. Just cold stuff, taken from the best westerns there ever was, but done with great modern style here.

    I sincerely hope a proper studio DVD of this film is produced soon and that this great western get's the recognition it deserves.

    Don't be swayed by the cheap packaging, it's a wonderful film. Especially for those who love the intellectualism of Kubrick's films and the sheer action and cruelty of the Spaghetti Western :)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Spoilers herein.

    About a hundred years ago Vincent Van Gogh retreated to Arles to paint. He was joined by friend Paul Gauguin with whom he shared lodging and whores. The state of the visual vocabulary was in flux and these two giants were inventing the future. But they had radically different versions. They fought. Vincent lost his mind, an ear and later his life.

    A new language was being invented. Both used radical colors, flat perspectives with recognition of the medium. Both painted not what was, but what existed in the space between the subject and the eye. Vincent had this notion of energy in the eye, an honest projection of emotion. He projected himself into the world and painted himself. Gauguin had a rosicrucian notion of abstracting the world. His eye transmuted the world into a symbolic vocabulary which he painted.

    As then, so in the 1960's with film, with battles between two camps forging a new language. Brando and Kubrick.

    Kubrick had just come off of `Spartacus,' which troubled him deeply. For reasons not of interest here, he was not allowed to make it his art. Disgusted, he started work on a film that would. This one. It had a simple story, and lots of opportunity to place the distance among the major characters in the visual aether.

    Brando, meanwhile was at the end of his first and only important burst. It had been ten years since `Streetcar,' which reinvented how actors can fill the narrative space between the action and viewer. He had just run through a few pictures with nitwit directors, who neither understood his revolution, nor challenged him to take the next step.

    Kubrick wanted to use his eye as Gauguin's, to transform the world to establish a narrative. Brando filled the Vincent role, wanting to play the character and also play someone playing the character and so fill the narrative space with emotional mechanics. They fought, Kubrick departed. Brando directed, and never did again. But what he did here is an honest attempt to advance his approach.

    This is important: you must see this film to judge for yourself how well he does. He never was the same again, and in any case the film didn't connect with audiences. It is my opinion that he and friend Karl do succeed, primarily by reducing everything else to the bare minimum, and imbuing emotion in personal spaces. It works as intended, but doesn't connect with us the audience, so all this great acting goes off into outer space. In maybe another few decades before Brando-like actors (Penn?) might make this magic accessible to the rest of us.

    (Since then, a creole language of sorts has developed. These two approaches still sit uneasily in the same film. The closest marriage came in `Taxi Driver,' then `Snake Eyes.')
  • Revenge and payback are the central theme in this film and is what keeps a cowboy going in his obsession to track down a former partner in crime. Marlon Brando stars and directs this fine drama as the flawed Rio searches for his erstwhile pal who sold him out to a posse several years earlier. Most of the film's characters are unsavory types and the peace officers aren't much better. This picture has the great natural beauty of the Monterrey peninsula and Death Valley, and Karl Malden and Ben Johnson, among others, do superb work. Brando looks a tad overweight in his tight-fitting Mexican cowboy outfits. The film has plenty of drama and excitement and is accompanied by a wonderful music score by Hugo Friedhofer. Although some critics panned this film, it has legions of devotees.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I was never that smitten with this film many years ago on my first viewing, but now, with the advent of time, I like to think I view films with newer and wiser perspectives. Sadly I can't say that One- Eyed Jacks has left me anything other than frustrated and cold with disappointment.

    Marlon Brando took over directing duties from Stanley Kubrick after the two giants fell out about the direction the picture was taking, this let Brando loose to shoot for 6 months on a film meant to be wrapped in two. Now this may be the main problem to me because the film is painfully devoid of major fleshing out of the characters, scenes are not expanded and there are obvious gaps due to mass editing cuts. It reads on the screen that our protagonist gets sentenced to 5 years in jail, two seconds later we see a bearded haggard man escaping prison chained to another inmate, next shot he is clean shaved and it seems we have missed some important chat between the two escapists. On it goes throughout the picture, I'm sure that the final elongated cut (rumoured to be between 4 & 6 hours) would have been a joyous experience, but as it is we get a cut down 141 minutes of film that rather outstays it's welcome. And to get through it you really need to believe in patience being a virtue.

    Brando of course holds court and is never less than interesting, and at times he sizzles and dominates the screen in the way that Marlon was want to do. But the whole performance has the reek of over indulgence about it. Making it more about the actor than the actual narrative. Along side him, Karl Malden is solid and gruff as the villain of the piece, but Katy Jurado is badly underused and seems like an afterthought to be an important character. Sadly, too, Pina Pellicer struggles to convince in her only American film, but naturally that is not important in the context that she was to take her own life at the woefully young age of 29 (depending on what site you believe as regards age at death). The bright spot here is the cinematography from Charles Lang Jr at the various sites in California, it is simply gorgeous, check out the coastline shots and take it all in. I personally feel that this film is one that Brando fans choose to ignore the major flaws with. His name some how making the end product seem better than it actually is. In its longest form I'm sure it "could have been a contender" in the great Western stakes, as it is it remains average and something of an unfulfilling disappointment. 5/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Possible Spoilers

    In the only film that he directed, Marlon Brando stars as Rio, a bandit who is betrayed by his partner, Dad Longworth, and spends several years in a Mexican jail. Escaping, Rio vows revenge and tracks Longworth down to a California seaside town, where he has become the sheriff and, seemingly, a reformed character. Rio's quest for vengeance, however, is complicated when he falls in love with Louisa, Longworth's stepdaughter from his marriage to a Mexican woman. Further complications are caused by the fact that Rio is in league with two other outlaws to carry out a bank robbery. As one might expect, the movie ends with much violence and a bloody shootout.

    The above plot summary might suggest that this is a run-of-the-mill revenge Western. That would not be a fair impression. My summary is in fact very much telescoped- the actual plot is a complex one. Although elements of the plot may be drawn from the commonplace book of stock Western clichés, there is much about the film that lifts it above the commonplace. There is some fine acting from Brando himself, who brings his characteristic intensity to Rio, from Karl Malden as Longworth, and particularly from the young Mexican actress Pina Pellicer as Louisa. Pellicer was not a classical beauty, but she gives Louisa, caught between love for Rio and loyalty to her stepfather, a fragile, tragic quality which is one of the most attractive things about this film.

    The other thing which lifts the film out of the ordinary is Brando's eye for beauty. Despite the name of the genre, most Westerns are not actually set at the westernmost edge of the North American continent- in most, the action takes place considerably further east, and I have even seen the term used to describe films about east-coast states. (Shenandoah, set in Virginia, is an example). One-Eyed Jacks is unusual in its seaside setting, and Brando makes full use of the magnificent Californian coastal scenery to produce what is visually one of the most striking Westerns ever.

    Although the film can be slow in places, its length allows Brando to build up his characters more fully and effectively than would have been possible in a shorter, faster-paced film. This is one of the new type of longer, epic, character-driven Westerns that were becoming popular in the fifties rather than the shorter action-driven Westerns that had previously held sway. Other examples of this new breed of Western were Anthony Mann's The Naked Spur and William Wyler's The Big Country. Those are two particularly fine films made by two great directors, but Brando's film can bear comparison with them. On the evidence of One-Eyed Jacks it seems a pity that he did not persist with his career as a director. 8/10.
  • This film is essential viewing for Brando fans. Brando directs for the only time . Working from a script that is in part based on the legend of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Brando interweaves themes of betrayal, revenge and hypocrisy into something strangely hypnotic and real. Particularly effective in this respect is the scene with Karl Malden and Brando on the outskirts of Monterey where the two sit reminiscing amusingly about their past together and the viewer is left wondering if at any moment the two of them might end up blowing each others heads off. The other key to this film is setting it on the west coast of California thereby giving it a feel and rhythm that is unique to the western genre. All in all a greatly neglected treasure.
  • This movie gets better with every viewing. Another poster said that Karl Malden plays sinister very well--also check out "Nevada Smith" for the same type of performance. Although Brando is "Brando" so to speak, I think that his direction of the movie ie underrated. It is a much better western, or movie for that matter, than it is credited for.
  • moovbuf4 February 2001
    For years I have been waiting for a good print of this very fine western. Mandacy DVD has a version that is terrible. Then the other day I'm at Best Buy, and I see One-eyed Jacks in a widescreen version from Diamond Video on DVD. For $7.99!!! I figure, what-the-hell. I can always get my money back. It is a great transfer. It is the best money I have ever spent on a DVD. This is one of my favorite westerns. A real brooding film about revenge. Marlon Brando made this his only directing effort. To Bad. This is one of his best performances. If you've never seen it, treat yourself. You won't be sorry.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Rio Kid gets double-crossed by Dad Longworth, his outlaw partner, and spends five years rotting in a Mexican prison. After his escape, the one sole purpose of his existence is to exact revenge on Longworth. Marlon Brando stars as Rio, and also directed this handsome western. Judging by this first-rate piece of work, it is a great shame that Brando hasn't ever directed another film in his half-century in the industry. From the outset, it is apparent that the movie is under the control of an assured cinematic intelligence. The camera tracks forward, passing through the gates of a casada, leaving the realm of titles and credits, and moving into the fictional space of the story, Sonora, Mexico in 1880. We see a bank robbery in progress, and Rio is sitting perfectly relaxed on the bank counter while all around him is drama and bustle. This is a man, we feel, who is not subject to the usual human frailties. After the robbery, Rio courts a Mexican beauty. This short scene conveys important character information - we see that Rio can be charming, but that he is ruthless and manipulative. It is often the case with westerns that the terrain is almost a character in the story, and so it is in this film. The two beautiful settings of the action are filmed in Vistavision. Mexico is arid and empty, and the wind sculpts the dust into gorgeous shapes. The barrenness of the land underpins the film's meaning - there is nothing here for the Rio Kid. When the action shifts to Monterrey, the majestic Californian surf becomes an ever-present, the constant boom of the breakers acting like a Greek chorus, reminding us that Rio is elemental and untameable. Brando is, as always, an enthralling screen presence. He can be frighteningly still and silent, as in the confrontation with Harv in Red's cantina, exuding lethal menace, or explosively violent. Rio is a fascinating character, both unsettling and attractive at the same time. Karl Malden (Dad Longworth), Ben Johnson (Amory) and Sam Gilman (Harv) turn in competent performances as the bad guys. Katy Jurado, with her sultry hispanic looks, was a 'must' for westerns of this period and acquits herself well as Maria, Longworth's wife. Slim Pickens is memorable as the revolting Lon, and Elisha Cook pops up as the bank teller who fights back. Pina Pellicer was to die by her own hand a short time after starring here as Luisa, the girl who loves Rio. Verdict - An outstanding western which stands alone as Brando's one foray into directing.
  • For a film of its time (under the censorship of the "movie code"), "One Eyed-Jacks" is unusual in many ways. Brando's character, "Rio", impregnates his former partner's adoptive (Mexican) daughter outside of wedlock, and the plot allows her to live at the end of the movie. Brando's most trusted friend in the movie is his Mexican prison cell-mate. Indeed the only characters in the movie who don't betray him or aren't indifferent to him are Mexican; this is a rare depiction of support and affection for other ethnicities absent in most American movies of this period.

    Brando appears in top form in this movie. His physical presence is almost overwhelming. He displays an ease of manner, sense of irony, humor and a quiet confidence that seems somewhat avant-garde for movies of this period. His character, "Rio", is clearly an anarchist; not the traditional Western "good guy". The fact that his character -an unapologetic bank robber- is clearly morally superior to the town's beloved and trusted sheriff is a refreshing plot twist.

    I believe that in its own way the movie was a kind of cinematic landmark in its intensity, sexuality, and implied (and expressed) violence. It's not perfect, but perhaps because he directed it, one is allowed some access to the real Marlon Brando; his strength, his passion, and his concern and respect for other ethnicities.
  • It's 1880 in Sonara, Mexico. Rio (Marlon Brando) is a bank robber on the run from the authorities. His partner Dad Longworth (Karl Malden) double-crosses him and escapes leaving Rio behind. Rio is captured but he escapes from Sonora prison 5 years later. He hunts down Dad who is now a sheriff in California.

    This is most notable for being Marlon Brando's one and only directing effort. It's a simple western with some competent scenes. However there are a lot of amateurish camera work too. There's a reason Brando never became a director. Eventually he lost his overly long movie to be recut by the studio.

    The movie as it is cut by the studio is a slow disjointed western. It's not anything original or special. Karl Malden and Marlon Brando are both great actors in their prime. Neither characters are simple and the movie is compelling enough to watch. Mostly just to see what these great actors are going to do. There is a couple of nice performances from Pina Pellicer and Katy Jurado.
  • A great film, one of the best westerns of all time....Marlon Brando directs a pure masterpiece....when you think of the great revenge westerns of which there are plenty, this one along with "Nevada Smith" with Steve McQueen ranks as a pure winner. Brando in the lead role of a bandit with a large chip on his shoulder assembles a fabulous cast of villains, ladies and a solid story.....Karl Malden, a snake in the grass (ala "Neveda Smith" with McQueen) is over the top as Brando's former gunslinger pardner who deserts him and leaves him to the Mexican federales...the slimy Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens are about as snarly and nasty as they come in a western....solid cast of slimy villains, and the lovely and professional Mexican leading lady Katy Jurado round out the cast...but wait, what about Pina Pellicier, a very young and fresh face, who is a sweet and innocent daughter who falls in love with a mixed up, hell bent for leather Brando...she nearly knocks you out with her performance..... What role couldn't Brando do???? A performer of the highest magnitude...and then there is the lovely Carmel, California seaside which is shown throughout the film....probably a stone's throw from Pebble Beach where they filmed. One of Karl Malden's best villain roles along with his job in "Nevada Smith" and "Parrish" with Troy Donahue....what an actor he was....this is a don't miss film for action fans....a pure delight.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First off, this was a horrible quality DVD--all fuzzy and washed out and greatly in need of restoration. Fortunately, a Blu-Ray version is being released in a little over a week.

    This is an unusual Marlon Brando film because in addition to starring, he directed the movie. However, according to IMDb, the studio was shocked when he delivered a five-hour plus film and drastically edited it. The finished edited version is a slowly unfolding film--so in hindsight it's probably good the film was edited. I just can't imagine the film strung out to five hours.

    The film begins with Brando and his two partners robbing a bank in Mexico. Soon, the law arrives and kills one of them. The two survivors (Brando and Karl Malden) escape into the desert. They are pinned down and Malden leaves to get horses so they can escape. However, Malden appeared to have just run off and left his friend to the authorities--and Brando is sent to prison. Five years later, he escapes and is looking for Malden to exact revenge. Ironically, however, Malden has re-written himself--and is a sheriff. Now this makes for a rather interesting reunion! What's even more interesting is that Malden seems to have Brando fooled--and Malden treats him like a friend. At Malden's home, Brando then falls in love with Malden's step-daughter (Pina Pellicer). Now what is going to happen? While I could tell you more, I don't want to spoil it--but there is A LOT more to this film than this.

    Generally, this is a very good western. My one criticism is that both Malden and Brando play men who just aren't all that bright. They both have great opportunities to end their rivalry once and for all---yet let their enemy escape. In real life, I just can't see this happening--especially when one vows to the other "...one day I'll kill you"---and yet the other guy lets him escape!! Any sane person would have just shot him in the face and be done with it! Also, the relationship between Brando and Pellicer seemed a bit unlikely, as they fall madly in love but their motivation seems a bit lacking.

    Now these are minor complaints. Otherwise, it's a good film--one of the better westerns of the era. Good acting (particularly by Malden) and an interesting plot make this one worth seeing.

    By the way, at the end of the film, while Brando is in jail, there's a dog in there with him. I wonder what HIS crime was (I mean the dog)? Also, I saw this film with my wife and she hated the original ending that I read from the SPOILER on IMDb's trivia--I think it sounded great! But, the studio thought this downbeat ending would irritate audiences--and it probably would have--though it would have given the film a nice twist.
  • Although not normally thought so, "One Eyed Jacks" in one of Brando's best works. Maybe because it was a western it didn't get the recognition it deserved. The cinematography was amazing and all else followed from there. It was a subtle, quiet exposition by virtually every actor in the film. The "power' of Brando on screen is unmatched by any other actor living or dead. His confrontation with Ben Johnson, "Get up you tub of guts"! and with that woman abusing cowboy in the bar..."'Get up you scum sucking pig"...felt like a kick in the chest. The anger was tangible.

    He did other actually great films that to this day are thought to be mediocre at best. Maybe we'll get to those later.
  • 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.
An error has occured. Please try again.