By Freda Bruce Lockhart
THE hackneyed title of Lonely are the Brave ("A") suggests the most commonplace of Westerns. "Brave Cowboy", the title of Edward Abbey's novel on which the film is based, would have been less misleading, for here is an impassioned variation on a classical theme. Westerns are the cinema's only original classics, and the familiar form has inspired some of the best work of both star and director. Kirk Douglas is the freelance cowboy, his generation's chevalier, the tough but "very gentle parfit knight" who never did a naughty thing but for a noble reason. He rides on unadjusted into the mechanised modem world.
David Miller, the film's director, has risen to Edward Abbey's story
as though it were indeedthe last Western. He rediscovers an important truth lately often forgotten: that letting the most violent horrors happen unseen makes them no less dramatic, as when the prisoner-hero is beaten up in prison. We do not see the heating-up, and he returns to face his cell-mate with his back to us. The long man-hunt is splendid movie with the tension and austerity of the great Westerns. Sympathy is always with the hunted. There is no doubt here that the moronic guard, the hideous dragon-helicopter are the enemy to us as clearly as to the sheriff (fine performance by Walter Matthau) who feels so deeply for the man he hunts. Kirk Douglas's craggy features merge into the baked rock of the mountainside like a camouflage as he tries to flatten himself against it, or drags his unbeautiful but beloved horse tip its preciptous side. His is a first-class star solo. But lonely is not the right word. This hero could make his getaway if he would abandon his horse. The ending was to me so distressing it took me two days to get over before I could remember how good I had thought the movie. Its musical accompaniment is far subtler than the average. And the film, like its title, is not to be taken exactly at face value.
O"T pour Tennessee Williams's plays, each contributing to the Chamber of Southern Horrors. Latest to reach the screen is Sweet Bird of Youth ("X"). It seems a little more mechanical, the monstrous characters less believable than usual. It has everything on a grand scale: drink, hashish, sex rampant. and a local political boss who sells his daughter and exercizes a brand of sadism more than usually crude. This Hitler-in-thehome is played with diabolical bonhomie by that fine actor Ed Begley. Most of the action takes place in a vast hotel on the coast of Florida. There a has-been Hollywood star brings her seemingly permanent hangover and persevering hanger-on, a local boy Chance Wayne (Paul Newman). These characters recognize themselves as monsters. We recognize many of them as members of Mr. Williams's stock family--di picabie young men and phial women, from the exploited prey laughter "Heavenly" (Shirt Knight) to the terrorised maid aunt (indomitable performan by Mildred Dunnock). Williams writes wonderful a ing parts and the one good reas for seeing the film is for an deniable performance the calibre rarely to be broug
Geraldine Page as the drunk broken actress who at a whiff success gathers herself togett again and gives the performar of a great actress. The charac of her companion, Chance. is t one that never comes to life a his fate seemed a commonph anti-climax after the horns hinted. But even if Mr. William fatal facility creaks in self-parm it would be as difficult for him write an unwatchable play as I say Graham Greene to write unreadable story.
ACYNICAL "black" fa about corruption in Frei rural politics has come to screen with the title The Stu ("X"). Sometimes brilliantly fur the mood surrounding elections the milk co-operative is closer "Clochemeric" than to good dr AWESTERN with no din ence at all except that the Apache is presented as a v noble redskin duped by say, whites, is Geronimo ("A").