Last Man Standing (1996) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
|It's going to take me the whole damned
review to give you the Robbins Recipe for this one
The pedigree here is very complicated. Back in the late 1920's, famed pulp writer Dashiel Hammett (The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man) wrote a novel called "Red Harvest" about a lone PI in a small town, a man with no name, who plays two rival gangs against each other after he finds his client dead. The great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa admitted that he took the Red Harvest storyline without attribution when he wrote 1961's "Yojimbo", about a nameless, historyless samurai who enters a small Japanese town in the 18th century and plays two warring factions against each other. Is this starting to sound familiar? That's probably because you've seen the Clint Eastwood pic "A Fistful of Dollars", which is the same basic plot located in the Old West, with gangs of Mexican banditos instead of samurai.
|"Last Man Standing" credits Kurosawa, probably motivated by the fact that Kurosawa is a distinguished screen legend and his name lends an aura of respectability to the project. Writer/director Walter Hill might have been more honest if he had also credited Fistful of Dollars, from which he borrows several stylistic elements, moving the Leone movie forward about forty years, and back across the border to Texas.||
|Strangely enough, although this movie is
the fourth degree of separation from Red Harvest, it
comes full circle back to Hammett's own Prohibition era
for its locale. Apart from that, however, it's nothing
like Red Harvest. The movie town is far removed from
Hammett's town, which was a real place which gangsters
ruled. (Also true in Yojimbo, in which there are real
villagers trying to live normal lives.)
The town in this movie doesn't have anyone left to rule. Except for the mobsters and their floozies, there appear to be only four inhabitants, including no wives or children. The buildings all appear to be falling apart and left over from an earlier era. The unreality is further enhanced by the climate, which seems to be a permanent red dust storm during the day. All of these elements are, again, straight out of A Fistful of Dollars. Interestingly, although they refer to this as the desert, it rains at night. In fact, it rains so hard that it interferes with driving. That's good for movie atmosphere, but I think maybe they need to look up the definition of "desert".
it is joyless, it's an OK movie, but you have to
understand that the violence is not a means to an end in
this movie. The violence IS the movie. It isn't a mystery
with violence. It isn't a good yarn with violence. It
isn't a crime story with violence. It is violence as
entertainment. Body count is the entire raison d'etre. So
don't watch it unless you like that. Although this is not
my favorite kind of film, I did actually get kind of an
adrenalin rush from some of the scenes here, although
others seem too uncreative to be interesting, rather like
watching target practice with live targets.
Just because I think Hammett's prose is kinda cool, here's the intro to Red Harvest:
"I first heard Personville called Poisonville by a red-haired mucker named Hickey Dewey in the Big Ship in Butte. He also called his shirt a shoit. I didn't think anything of what he had done to the city's name. Later I heard men who could manage their r's give it the same pronunciation."
Return to the Movie House home page