The Shooting, perhaps the most famous Western hardly anybody ever saw, takes deadpan survey of the fallout from a casual atrocity, or perhaps only a ludicrous accident, in a nameless town. We never see the atrocity/acciden... more »t, or even the town. Word simply reaches a prospector's camp, a wood-and-canvas pimple on the blankness of the wasteland, that someone "rode down a man and a little person... maybe a child." Was the someone Willett Gashade's brother Coin, who has gone missing? Was it Leland Drum, Coin's companion, who gets shot from ambush at his fireside--perhaps by an unknown avenger, perhaps by Coin? The death of Drum explains the film's title, but there's a long list of things we never know in The Shooting, and most (all?) of the characters in the movie never know them either. Still, the small, relentlessly enigmatic cast of characters gets into motion and keeps moving--chasing something, running from something, headed for somewhere that may turn out to be nowhere, or deep inside themselves. Monte Hellman made The Shooting (and a second movie, Ride in the Whirlwind) during one brief trip into the desert, anonymously financed by Roger Corman, in the summer of 1966. His material was a script by Adrien Joyce (later of Five Easy Pieces fame), the patient camera of Gregory Sandor, and the faces, voices, and brazenly modern presences of Warren Oates (Gashade), Jack Nicholson (a white-collar killer), and Millie Perkins (a pinched Medusa, freckled with trail dirt, bitchy light years from Anne Frank). Over the intervening decades the Beckettian movie has been sporadically available only on late-night TV or via scrappy 16-millimeter prints at film societies. That now triumphantly changes with this crisp, color-saturated DVD release, whose modest letterboxing eloquently enhances the unsettling power of Hellman's compositions and eerie long takes. --Richard T. Jameson« less
"THE SHOOTING (1966): Willet Gashade (Warren Oates) and his dimwitted friend Coley (Will Hutchins) are in a state of growing paranoia after their partner is inexplicably shot to death by an unseen assassin at their small mining camp. The murder may have been in retaliation for the accidental trampling death of "a little person" in town, ostensibly by Gashade's brother, who had left camp in a great hurry immediately prior to the shooting. The next morning, while the two remain confused and suspicious over this disturbing mystery, a strange young woman (Millie Perkins) shoots her horse to death outside of the camp and then offers Gashade a thousand dollars to lead her to a place called Kingsley. He accepts even though he makes no attempt to hide his distrust. Intrigued by The Woman, Coley offers to tag along. On their journey, the trio are tracked at a distance by a black clad stranger, Billy Spear (Jack Nicholson). Meanwhile, The Woman laughingly toys with Coley's emotions and refuses to answer any of Gashade's questions. Spear eventually joins them and proves to be a most despicable companion. Hostile and abusive in the extreme, Spear is a gunslinger cohort of The Woman, who is herself quickly revealed to be every bit as wicked as Gashade had suspected from the beginning. Eventually, the strange journey ends in bloody disarray at the foot of a rock-strewn mountain, where Gashade comes face to face with the answer to the mystery, at great cost.
One of the most celebrated of all cult movies, and deservedly so, THE SHOOTING is a truly great example of the once vital western form, a triumphant dying gasp for the genre. This compelling tale of weird vengeance is directed with icy cold brilliance by Monte Hellman. The perennially underrated Hellman works wonders on a lowbudget, with stunning cinematography (by Gregory Sandor) provoking a strong aura of the mysterious and uncanny even in the most realistically detailed scenes. A small but terrific cast helps brings the occasionally mystical narrative to life. Warren Oates plays the world weary and wise Grashade with his usual gritty style, making him a suitable anti-hero for this dark tale. He's an excellent foe to Jack Nicholson's irredeemably evil Billy Spear, one of the most repulsively mean of all movie villains. As bad as he is, Nicholson is ultimately simply a well armed servant at the beck and call of The Woman, who is beautifully played by Millie Perkins for maximum hissability. Both Spear and The Woman engineer the destruction of Oates' foolish sidekick Coley, whose decency earns him an undeserved fate; Will Hutchins' charmingly sweet performance provides the film with its only moments of gentleness. Richly ambiguous and by turns realistic and dreamlike, THE SHOOTING is a sporadically baffling but undeniably heady ride into the desert. The creepy ending makes this one of those rare movies that will compel you to immediately rewatch the whole thing from beginning to end, if only so you can try to satisfy your curiosity about what it just might REALLY be all about. Its THAT great of a movie. The VCI DVD presents THE SHOOTING in a fine, modestly letterboxed transfer that captures the film in all its eerie widescreen glory. Since the film never received a theatrical release and has been shown only rarely on television, this is the first time most people will have ever had the chance to see this film in its intended aspect ratio. The only extra is a terrific and highly informative audio commentary from Hellman and Perkins, who vividly recall with candor and humor the filming of this ultra-cheap, high-class production."
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE DESERT
wdanthemanw | Geneva, Switzerland | 01/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If director Monte Hellman's THE SHOOTING is not the cult movie by excellence, I'm ready to watch the whole production of Jackie Chan available here at ... . DVD's and VHS. Without fast forwarding. Shot entirely in the gorgeous Utah desert sceneries, THE SHOOTING relates the story of a hunting. Who is hunted and who is hunting is one of the multiple unanswered questions of this unusual western. The name of the character played by Millie Perkins is never uttered, she is only credited as "The Woman". Is she the mother of the child Warren Oates's brother would have hurted during a ride into town ? Just guess.Monte Hellman and Jack Nicholson were both part of producer Roger Corman's unbelievable nest of future stars, they teamed up in 1967 for THE SHOOTING and RIDE IN A WHIRLWIND shot simultaneously. All I can say is that THE SHOOTING is a kind of UFO in the american production of this period and deserves to stay in your collection as an example of what can be done with a restricted budget and a lot of good ideas. Simply amazing.I had a few problems with the menus of the DVD, never knowing where I was because the different available features were not lightened. But fortunately I know how to count until ten and made my way through the menus where I discovered filmographies, a picture gallery, different trailers and a very informative commentary said by Monte Hellman and Millie THE WOMAN Perkins. I eventually learned that Jack Nicholson was helped by a technical trick when he had to draw his gun. Simple but efficient.A DVD for your library."
SEE THIS WITH "RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND"
Robin Simmons | Palm Springs area, CA United States | 01/02/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the spring of 1965, Roger Corman, the king of profitable, low budget movies, helped produce (without credit) two amazing films that have achieved legendary cult status. Now, thanks to VCI Home Video, Monte Hellman's "THE SHOOTING" and "RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND" are available on DVD in pristine, widescreen transfers. The films are subtly interconected.Both films star a then unknown Jack Nicholson and super starlet Millie Perkins and were shot simultaneously on location in Utah for the modest amount of $150,000. Nicholson also wrote and co-produced "Ride in the Whirlwind" which is a straightforward tale of the making of a bad man and features sharp performances from Cameron Mitchell, the great Harry Dean Stanton, Rupert Crosse and Katherine Squire among others. After accidentally happening on a group of outlaws, and getting caught in the crossfire by a sheriff and his posse, Wes (Jack Nicholson) is mistaken for one of the gang and escapes. But, in order to defend himself during his flight, has to start killing. By the end of the film he has become a legendary and mythic figure. Quentin Tarantino, a big fan of Hellman, has called this "one of the greatest films ever made." In the "The Shooting," former bounty hunter turned miner Gashade (Warren Oates) returns to his diggings to find one of his partners, Leland, dead, his brother Coigne gone, and his third partner, Coley (Will Hutchins) holed-up in a nearby cave. Soon, a mysterious woman (Millie Perkins) materializes out of nowhere and offers Gashade a huge sum of money to guide her on a journey he soon realizes is a manhunt.The quirky screenplay is by Adrien Joyce, the odd pen-name of the brilliant screenwriter Carole Eastman who wrote the acclaimed "Five Easy Pieces" which also stars Nicholson.What "The Shooting" is actually about is anybody's guess. It has been called an existential western, or anti western. The super low-budget enforced a minimalist, almost surrealistic style that is terrific and timeless. The stark outdoor locations add immensely to the mood and of this this strange, enigmatic story that seems to reflect mid 60's paranoia and disillusionment.Since their initial release, both films, though seldom seen, have become critical favorites, and have attained cult film status here and in Europe. Both discs include an entertaining and revealing commentary by director Monte Hellman and actor Millie Perkins with additional informed commentary by American Cinematheque programmer Dennis Bartok."
Bad DVD of a Great Movie
E. Arima | Chicagoland | 08/01/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Madacy Entertainment is really promoting the bootlegging of DVDs with their release of this extremely low quality product. The menu links are dead, so the only way to naviagte the disc is by randomly pressing buttons on your DVD player's remote control and hoping that you access the feature you're looking for. Once you figure out how to access the main feature, you'll notice how poor the quality of the transfer is, both audio and video. Known cheapies like Front Row Video and Alpha Video both put out better quality products than this; and for a movie that really deserves Criterion treatment, this is just disrespectful--to the movie and the paying customer."
Weird 60s Western with Jack Nicholson & Warren Oats
- Durrkk | Ohio/PA border USA | 01/30/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Shooting is an offbeat 1966 Western directed by Monte Hellman, with a screenplay by Carole Eastman (using the pseudonym "Adrien Joyce"). The story is about two men (Warren Oates and Will Hutchins) who are hired by a mysterious woman (Millie Perkins) to accompany her to a town located many miles across the desert. During their journey, they are closely tracked and later joined by a malevolent black-clad gunslinger (Jack Nicholson) who is known by the woman.
This early Nicholson vehicle is definitely worthwhile especially if you have a taste for out-of-the-ordinary films. Millie Perkins is quite fetching and Will Hutchins is a convincing youngster sidekick, while Oates is a good every-man protagonist and Nicholson just oozes ee-vil. The film is also a must for anyone who likes lost-in-the-wilderness flicks (like me).
I was almost going to give the film 3 Stars because of the nonsensical ending. What's wrong with the ending? [SPOILER ALERT!! Don't read anymore unless you've seen the film]. As the story progresses it becomes clear that the woman is hunting Oates' brother who apparently killed a child or a midget, likely the woman's child. When they finally catch up to him at the very end we discover that the supposed murderer is Oates' TWIN brother who looks exactly like him. Since this is so, why didn't the woman assume Oates (Willett Gashade) was the person who killed her child since he looks exactly like the one who did (Coin Gashade)?
If anyone can shed some light on this mystery I'd appreciate it. I suspect that there is no answer, which makes the film pointless. Why go through all the expense and trouble of making a film that doesn't make sense?
Regardless, "The Shooting" is a worthwhile independent 60s Western with occasional flashes of brilliance. Some have called it the first "acid Western" but I wouldn't go that far. It has some weird touches, but not too weird."