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(..."Sunny slopes of long ago"...) SHORT-CHANGED
on 20 March 2016
For me, one of the best, all too short parts, involved Anjelica Huston's character. While Gus (Robert Duvall) charmed and Woodrow Call seldom cracks a smile; her resentment of lost years was compounded by the dour Scot's failure to acknowledge Newt as son.
Tommy Lee Jones gives us someone with many layers and deserving respect. IN THE WAY TOO BRIEF "special features" the author indicates the illegitimate son an important piece of the story.
THIS IS a movie for big screen, comfortable chair taking in a grand mix of scenery with stirring music almost letting you feel open prairie.
THE BIG LETDOWN are several cuts ___ from an early scene with Gus admiring an old photograph of Texas Rangers, his normal charm disappear; provoked by young bar keeper's insults of all in it even though he could not have known them. If I recall properly, Gus busts bar-keep's nose, using his navy dragoon six-shooter then gets involved in fist fight & rather improbably, given his age beats three of them. Woodrow is content to watch, (most of it) before lending a hand.
This had been a small & perhaps less important scene but MUCH MORE relevant to overall film was first encounter with renegade "Blue Duck" (Frederick Forrest), involving a standoff between him & Gus who'd been visiting Laurie (Dianne Lane.) With not enough in his favour, he withdraws, full of bluster but later returns and adducts her. There follows a manhunt, gunfights with drunken Indians & buffalo hunters who Blue Duck has instructed kill Gus. These scenes alone would've taken up around 20minutes, bringing more interesting characters plus a heartbreaking scene between Laurie & Gus upon next meeting. Some black humour involved a typically laid-back Gus and the way he despatchs one over-confident buffalo hunter.
Social media sites are less than useless; giving garbled accounts of their version Lonesome Dove. Only if you come to this story first time will you enjoy. There's over an hour missing, which begins, immediately after first river crossing & if memory serves, there ought to be close on six-hours; instead this shadow of original. That it's still watchable is only down to performers, scenery and mood-inducing music.
Forget about any comparison with book, or a lot of online chatter about "the story". There was only the one, main tale of a last hurrah for two ex-rangers driving cattle & horses from Texas to Montana. Those additional stories & interesting characters are lost here.