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With: Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, Kathleen Lloyd, Frederic Forrest, Harry Dean Stanton, John McLiam, John P. Ryan, Sam Gilman, Steve Franken, Richard Bradford, James Greene, Luana Anders, Danny Goldman, Hunter von Leer
Written by: Thomas McGuane
Directed by: Arthur Penn
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 126
Date: 05/19/1976

The Missouri Breaks (1976)

3 Stars (out of 4)

A Regulator Joe

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Missouri Breaks seems like something worked out in the mind of a studio executive, hiring two recent Best Actor Oscar winners and box office champs, Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson, as well as director Arthur Penn, who had helped re-shape the entire movie business years earlier with Bonnie and Clyde. When it finally arrived, it was critically panned and a financial flop. Now, however, it looks quite a bit more interesting, with its odd, laggy rhythms and weird touches.

Nicholson plays Tom Logan, a member of a gang of horse rustlers. With their recent profits, they buy a ranch to use as a relay station for future jobs. Calvin (Harry Dean Stanton) gets the idea to rob the Canadian Mounties, under the notion that they're so well protected, they won't be expecting anything. But Tom must stay behind to man the station. There, he falls for a cute neighbor girl, Jane (Kathleen Lloyd), and becomes interested in farming the land while he waits. Their randy scenes together are a bit part of the movie's charm.

Meanwhile, a "regulator," Robert E. Lee Clayton (Marlon Brando, with a broad Irish brogue), shows up with the vague threat of shooting everyone when they're not looking. Brando apparently improvised his scenes; in one, he tries to fool gang member Randy Quaid into giving up some info by posing as yet another character, with another accent.

Kino Lorber released a 2014 Blu-ray, with optional English subtitles.

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