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Film / One-Eyed Jacks

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One-Eyed Jacks is a 1961 Western directed by and starring Marlon Brando. It was adapted from the 1957 novel The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones by Charles Neider.

Rio (Brando) and Dad Longworth (Karl Malden) are outlaws and partners in crime. The film opens in 1880 with Rio and Dad robbing a bank in Mexico. They make their escape but stop running too soon, and the rurales swoop down on them. Dad and Rio flee into the desert, with the cops giving chase; Rio's horse is shot. With only one horse left, Dad and Rio decide that Dad will make a break for it, get a second horse, and come back for Rio. Unfortunately for Rio, once Dad makes his escape with a good horse and a bag full of gold, he decides to keep going. Rio is arrested.

Five years pass before Rio breaks out of jail. Eventually he tracks down Dad, who has not only gone straight, but has become the sheriff of Monterey, CA. Rio pretends that there are no hard feelings but secretly plots to both rob the bank in Monterey and kill Dad. Rio's desire for revenge is complicated, however, when he falls in love with Dad's beautiful stepdaughter Louisa.

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The only film Marlon Brando ever directed. He took the job himself after having a disagreement with Stanley Kubrick, who had originally been hired for the project.

Not to be confused with novel One-Eyed Jacks.


Tropes:

  • Barefoot Poverty: The camera makes it a point to show the humble stableboy in the opening sequence walking around the desert barefoot, as a frantic Dad buys horses.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Dad gets off eight bullets with a six-shooter in the final shootout.
  • Dances and Balls: The fiesta in the town square, which includes a dance, forces a delay in the bank robbery as the banks are closed, and also gives Rio more time to fall in love with Louisa.
  • Disturbed Doves: A flock of disturbed pigeons swoop across the screen as Dad and Rio engage in their final shootout.
  • Fake Action Prologue: Inverted for a Fake Non-Action Prologue. The first scene shows Rio sitting on a countertop, idly eating a banana, looking bored. After a little bit the camera pulls back to reveal that Rio is in a bank which he and his gang are robbing.
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  • Hangover Sensitivity: Dad is wincing and holding the bridge of his nose the morning after the fiesta, which does not improve his humor when he finds out Louisa spent the night with Rio.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: Chico pulls his gun for the confrontation with Emory, only to find when he pulls the trigger that the gun isn't loaded. Emory took the bullets out before they left.
  • Last Breath Bullet: Subverted. Dad isn't quite dead, and he manages to squeeze off one last shot as Rio and Louisa ride away—but he misses.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: The opening action sequence ends with Dad reneging on his promise to come back for Rio, leaving Rio to get arrested by the Mexican police.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Rio rides away as Louisa waves to him, after having promised to come back for her in the spring.
  • Spiteful Spit:
    • The flamenco dancer does this to the corpse of Tetley the abusive dirtbag after Rio kills him.
    • Rio does the same to Dad before Dad whips him.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Dad gives Rio a brutal whipping after Rio kills Tetley the dirtbag, but really it's because Rio seduced Louisa.
  • Throwing Your Gun at the Enemy: Chico throws his gun in frustration at Emory after realizing Emory took the bullets out. Emory chuckles evilly, then shoots him.
  • Time Skip: Five years between the opening scenes and the time when Rio escapes from jail and starts looking for Dad.
  • Title Drop: "You're a one-eyed jack around here, Dad. I seen the other side of your face."
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Where the sexy flamenco dancer puts the gold coins she's given.
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