"That year, we released Medium Cool, which was aimed at the so-called "youth market", and Paint Your Wagon, a film aimed at... nobody."Remember the Simpsons clip show episode "All Singing, All Dancing" where Bart and Homer rent a Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin movie titled Paint Your Wagon and expect it to be a bloody shoot-em-up Western (much like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly or A Fistful of Dollars), only to discover it's a musical film?Yeah, the Simpsons writers didn't make that up.This somewhat obscure 1969 movie musical was based on a Broadway musical by Lerner and Loewe (the authors of Brigadoon and later My Fair Lady), with which it shares a number of characters and songs but not much plot. It was the last film to be directed by Joshua Logan, and was adapted for the screen by Paddy Chayefsky (Marty, Network).The story takes place during the California Gold Rush. When a wagon crashes into a ravine, prospector Ben Rumson (Marvin) rescues the surviving occupant (Eastwood). The two form a partnership, and Ben dubs the survivor "Pardner". By the riverside where the wagon crashed, gold is discovered, and a boom town called "No Name City" promptly crops up.The population of No Name City is initially all male, and the said men get horny. They are thus delighted when a Mormon with two wives rides into town one day. They convince him to sell one of them, Elizabeth (Jean Seberg), to the highest bidder. Ben, in a drunken stupor, wins the bid.A cabin is constructed for Ben and Elizabeth and the two settle into a happy marriage. But the remaining men are still horny, and Ben starts to get overprotective of Elizabeth. So the men concoct a scheme to kidnap six prostitutes from a neighboring town. Ben heads the mission, leaving Elizabeth in Pardner's care. Whilst he is away, the two fall in love. When Ben gets back, the scheme a success, Elizabeth convinces him and Pardner to enter a polyandrous marriage with her.With the abduction of the prostitutes successful, a brothel is established. Men come from miles around for a lay, and No Name City grows into a thriving town. Presently, a preacher named Parson arrives and decries all the gambling and hooking, claiming that God will make the earth swallow the town. As it happens, Ben and his cohorts dig a maze of tunnels beneath the town to collect the gold dust that falls through the floorboards of the buildings above. It looks like Parson might turn out to be correct...This flick had all the aspirations of a major blockbuster, but there were two problems. Firstly, Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin were more renowned for their action film tough guy roles and so a large number of their fans felt alienated by the idea of the two singing. Secondly, by the time it was released big budget musicals were on their way out. The film did fail to turn a profit. However, it was one of the highest grossing films of 1969.
—Robert Evans, The Kid Stays In the Picture
This film provides examples of:
- All Men Are Perverts
- Artistic Title: Featuring watercolor illustrations of the cast.
- Boom Town
- The Cassandra: The Parson's warnings about the town being swallowed up by sin come to literal fruition.
- Chivalrous Pervert: 'Mrs.' Rumson is treated with scrupulous respect even if the men do look at her like children at a candy display.
- City with No Name: Lampshaded with No Name City, though it was probably chosen to represent the countless Boom Towns and Ghost Towns left by the gold rush.
- Crowd Song
- Everything's Better with Cows: The golden calf and the bull.
- Fashion Dissonance: Very much averted with the local hippies who were used as extras for the film (this was made in The '60s, remember). Their clothes and hair were already so in tune with the Gold Rush aesthetic that they didn't even need costumes or makeup.
- Fast Tunnelling
- Forty Niner / Prospector: Most of the characters.
- Girlfriend in Canada: Pardner admits that his "love" back East was made up.
- Gold Fever: The motivation behind most of the hilarity that ensues, especially for Ben Rumson.
- In-Name-Only: Only two characters from the stage musical appear in the film; furthermore, the plot of the film bears almost no resemblance to that of its stage counterpart.
- Marry Them All
- No Name Given / Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Ben's Pardner (until the end, anyway).
- No Woman's Land
- Polyamory: Well, they tried it, at least.
- Real Is Brown
- Settling the Frontier: the settling of No Name City.
- Soiled City on a Hill: No Name City
- Spared by the Adaptation: Ben, who dies at the end of the stage version.
- Wanderlust Song: "Wandering Star" in the graveltastic voice of Lee Marvin. "Elisa" and "They Call the Wind Maria" is a good counterpart to this, dealing with the loneliness of a wandering life.
- Welcome to Hell, Parson. No Name City, Population: drunk. (Even noted on the welcome sign: "The Hell-thiest Spot in the West".)
- The Western
- The Wild West
In answer to the above caption; yes. Roger Ebert compared the two movies too.