Saturday, December 19, 2009

Review: Cat Ballou (1965)

I have mixed feelings, because I really enjoyed this movie, but somehow it just left me as I've never seen it. Everything was given for a great movie: great story, Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin, Nat King Cole, so I might have had some expectations, to which it actually lived up, I just really can't say that this is a masterpiece.
It's about Cat Ballou (Fonda), who is supposed to become a teacher, but ends up being an outlaw. There are some other weird characters, including a heavy boozer gunfighter, Kid Sheleen (Marvin), who she hires to protect her father.
This movie is actually a comedy and a very good one at that, but is this movie Oscar-type? Well, not really, but it's surely a lot of fun.
Jane Fonda is extremely young and sexy as Cat Ballou, her performance is funny, lively and even though this is definitely not the role of her lifetime, her acting is a very good and entertaining one and this was a very good beginning(?) to her very versatile career.
Lee Marvin is surprisingly hilarious in his double role. Even though he's great I'm not sure if he deserved to win this award. I'm very happy that a terrific comedy performance was recognised, but I don't know. I might have to re-watch it and get to see his co-nominees to finally decide if he deserved that. When Marvin won, Rod Steiger admitted to have been very shocked, but I don't know why it was such a big surprise, since Marvin won the most awards that year.
The screenplay (also nominated) is a very well-written and entertaining one. It has excellent lines, and it provides the actors with lots of possibilities to give a great comedy performance. It lost the Oscar to the adaptation of the great novel Doctor Zhivago (I liked that film even though it was COMPLETELY different from the book) and I think Cat Ballou did not deserve that award.
However, the score and the songs are the best parts of the movie. They are so great, that I would listen to them again and again without the movie just for fun. Nat King Cole's presence really lifts the movie, so I was happy that he was there. I'm a big fan of his music.
So, if you're really bored and you think that your life cannot be worse I strongly recommend this movie, in other cases I say it's good to watch and you will enjoy it. But this is definitely not a masterpiece.
My grade: 7/10
Nominations: Best Actor (Lee Marvin WON); Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium; Best Film Editing; Best Music, Original Song; Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment

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