Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
The myth of the American West was mostly invented long after the West itself had been settled, civilized and made fit for Disneyland. Movie Westerns are usually romantic fantasies with no connection to a real West that ever existed; we know that, but we like them anyway because the escapism is fun.
"Bad Company" is a Western like that. I don't imagine it's any more realistic than a John Wayne movie -- none of the "real" Westerns are, actually -- but it has a nice, blunt, slice-of-life quality about it that grows on you. It's about a group of young Civil War draft-dodgers who leave the United States at St. Joseph, Mo., and vaguely drift Westward.
They are traveling through territory that's supposed to be crawling with ferocious Indian tribes like the Arapaho, but in fact the dangers they meet are imported from the East. There are vicious pirate bands of outlaws, frontier vigilantes and their own mistrust of each other. This last is the greatest danger of all.