The Missouri Breaks (1976)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Revisionist Western  |   Release Date - May 18, 1976 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 126 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

With a script by Thomas McGuane, the volatile presence of both Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson, and director Arthur Penn's penchant for breaking genre conventions and mixing moods, The Missouri Breaks veers from quiet poignancy to broad comedy to frontier action, and finally to abruptly shocking violence, in a story that poses the outlaw as the only viable hero. Even the outlaw cannot keep living as an outlaw, however; with its sense of an ending era and the need to move on, The Missouri Breaks matched the sentiment of a cluster of 1976 Westerns, including The Shootist and The Outlaw Josey Wales. Shot on location in Montana, The Missouri Breaks was meant to be a major prestige production with the trio of Brando, Nicholson, and Penn, but the public and critics did not care for Penn's last revision of the Western. Despite the charismatic star match-up, it bombed, and Penn did not make another film for five years.