Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Outrage (1964)

“There was a trial.”
 “What happened?”
“A man was murdered.”
“Just one? A slow day!”

            The Outrage is not your typical Paul Newman film. He is not the gorgeous blue eyed All American man. He plays a Mexican bandit in the 1870s! I am sure I just turned your stomach at the thought or maybe made you scratch your head. Trust me when I say The Outrage was actually a very interesting film and Paul Newman did a great job.
            The film is told through flashbacks from several different characters.
            A Preacher (William Shatner) is leaving his church and his town. He is at a train station with a snake oil salesman/con man (Edward G. Robinson), and a miner. The con man asks the Preacher why he is leaving his church and his people. The Preacher replies it is because of a murder trial. He is upset that people swore to tell the truth on the Bible and they lied. He had thought he had struck it rich with souls to save when he came into the town. The con man asks the Preacher who committed the murder. The Preacher tells him the murderer was a man named Juan Carrasca (Paul Newman).
            We are shown the Preacher’s flashback to the trial. Juan has been handcuffed to a log in the ground in the middle of the town square. The night before he had burned down the jail so now the trial is being held in front of the whole town. The sheriff recalls how he found Juan lying in under a tree, Juan did not even put up a fight. As the sheriff tells his story Juan draws a hangman. Juan tells why he did not put up a fight. He says he had drank from the stream that had a bug in it and made it him sick. He also says the sheriff had pistol whipped him. Juan saw the newly married couple he was supposed to have attacked while he was on the road and he only tried to sell them a trinket. He did tie the husband up and then roughed up the wife when she came looking for husband. According to Juan the wife started to threaten him with a knife. Juan did not mean to kill the husband. He disgraced the wife and she wanted her husband to at least fight for her honor. The two men fight. The husband trips and falls on the knife.
            The wife managed to get away. The sheriff found her out of her mind from what she had witnessed. The Preacher says that the wife was not at all how Juan had described her. He described the wife as being worldly and sensual. The Preacher says she was homely and timid. The wife testified that Juan had let them be when he was done with her. The husband would not speak to her because of what happened. She had the knife in her hands from when she cut her husband free from the rope. She got so up she stabbed her husband.
            The Preacher cannot understand why the wife confessed to a murder she did not commit. Then he realizes they never got testimony from an Indian shaman who channeled the husband’s soul. Apparently the shaman was able to see what the husband saw before he died. The shaman saw that Juan was actually nice to the wife when her husband was never nice to her. She had wanted Juan to kill her husband. Juan got mad at her for even suggesting something like that and lets the husband go. The shaman sees the husband kill himself after his wife said.
            The story and the flashbacks go back and forth. The story unfolds in a way that I would not want to spoil it for you.
            The cast was actually really good. Paul Newman as I said was not your typical All American gorgeous actor.  If you had no idea that Newman was in the film you never would have known it was him. He went so deep into his character he became the character of Juan Carrasco. Edward G. Robinson was perfect as the talkative, slimy con man. William Shatner is not the greatest of actors he always seems so weird but in this film he was great. He was acting. Laurence Harvey played the husband. Harvey is mostly gagged for the entire story he does not have many lines.   
            The Outrage would have been a total mess had it been made by another director. Martin Ritt did a fantastic job. He got some of the best close up, and camera angles that I have seen in a film. Ritt’s direction is reason alone to watch The Outrage. Oh and so are the flashbacks. There are flashbacks within flashbacks. They are not confusing they make the story that much more enjoyable to watch.