In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Dolittle

A wild whirlwind of a mess, without any coherence, without even a guiding principle.

Other reviews
Review Archives

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other reviews
Great Movie Archives

Reviews

Two Mules for Sister Sara

  |  

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This review contains spoilers.]

Don Siegel's "Two Mules for Sister Sara" is a step or two above the usual Clint Eastwood Western. To be sure, it has plenty of the obligatory Eastwood violence, and the conventional scene of Eastwood lighting dynamite sticks with his cigar. But that's OK. One of the pleasures of movies is seeing stars doing their thing.

This time, though, there's more to the movie than Eastwood's schtick. Siegel is a first-rate action director ("Coogan's Bluff," "Riot in Cell Block 11"), with a knack for directing violence so that it's more exhilarating than disturbing. And his writer, Albert Maltz, has laid a human and funny story on top of the obligatory Eastwood scenes so "Two Mules" is successful on a couple of levels.

Advertisement

The story casts Eastwood as the usual tough stranger, making his way through the wilderness on a mysterious mission. He rescues Shirley MacLaine from the clutches of a band of bad guys, only to discover she's a nun. He accepts this nearly as bravely as Robert Mitchum accepted Deborah Kerr in "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison" (1957), and together they set off on a mission to blow up a fort. How and why they settle on this particular mission is a complex matter, but never mind.

Their journey across the desert develops into one of those relationships like Bogie and Katharine Hepburn in "The African Queen." The two people are obviously attracted to each other, but the rough-hewn hero stays clear of the lady out of respect. The respect turns out to be misplaced when Eastwood discovers Miss Shirley MacLaine isn't exactly a nun, but ...

Anyway, the movie is a lot better than it might have been. Miss Shirley MacLaine sparkles in an essentially comic role, and the laconic Eastwood spurs himself and manages sentences of even a dozen words. The Maltz dialog is funny and has a nice cynical edge to it, and the fort is blown up with a suitable flourish. And somewhere along the way, Eastwood demonstrates that silent comedy isn't entirely dead.

Popular Blog Posts

​Joker Leads Oscar Nominations

The 2020 Oscar nominations.

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez Offers Glimpse into American Tragedy

A review of the new Netflix crime docuseries about former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez.

The 4-Star Films of 2019

A collection of the reviews given our highest possible grade in 2019.

Creators of Modern Sherlock Bring Dracula to Life on Netflix

A review of Netflix's Dracula, from the creators of Sherlock.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus