Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Warren Oates, Jack Nicholson, Millie Perkins, Will Hutchins
Written by: Adrien Joyce (a.k.a. Carole Eastman)
Directed by: Monte Hellman
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 82
Date: 23/10/1966
IMDB

The Shooting (1967)

4 Stars (out of 4)

The Woman With No Name

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Roger Corman produced this "existential Western" along with its counterpart, Ride in the Whirlwind, but never took credit. It's one of my favorite Westerns, period. Screenwriter Carole Eastman wrote the script under the pseudonym "Adrien Joyce," and went on to receive an Oscar nomination for her next outing, Five Easy Pieces (1970). The director was Monte Hellman, a member of Corman's stable, who had previously worked on monster movies; this was his first chance at proving himself and establishing his unique voice. Warren Oates stars as Willett Gashade, who returns to camp only to find a dead body and his jumpy, simple-minded sidekick Coley (Will Hutchins) hiding and shooting at shadows. Before long, a mysterious lady rider (Millie Perkins) turns up and hires the duo to escort her across the desert to some unknown rendezvous. Halfway to their destination, a fourth person shows up, the professional killer Billy Spear (Jack Nicholson). Hellman uses the desert landscape to play havoc between these four extreme personalities, clashing them against one another in every conceivable way. The shocking, baffling ending provides the "existential" part. All told, The Shooting is a masterpiece of underground filmmaking.

In 2001, VCI Entertainment released The Shooting on a very nice, letterboxed DVD with a Hellman commentary track and other extras. It's currently out of print and selling for collector's prices. In 2014, the Criterion Collection released restored versions of both The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind on an essential two-disc DVD set or a single-disc Blu-ray, with commentary tracks, interviews, and a liner notes essay by Michael Atkinson.

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