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Film / The Outrage

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The Outrage is a 1964 film directed by Martin Ritt, starring Paul Newman, Laurence Harvey, Claire Bloom, and Edward G. Robinson.

It's an easy film to describe: it's Rashomon, remade as The Western.

In this version, a preacher (William Shatner) and a prospector (Howard Da Silva) take shelter from a heavy rainstorm in a remote desert train depot, and discuss the bizarre trial they attended the day before. A traveling Con Man (Robinson) joins them, and they tell him the story.

Notorious Mexican outlaw Juan Carrasco (Newman) ambushed a former Confederate colonel (Harvey), robbed him, and sexually assaulted his wife (Bloom), before the husband was killed. But Carrasco's testimony differs strongly from the wife's, and, via a Native American shaman (Paul Fix), the husband gets his own say. And it turns out the prospector knows more about the whole affair than he's been letting on.


Considered an oddity when it was released, it still has that reputation today. But there's some fascination in seeing Hollywood pros do their take on a World Cinema classic, and James Wong Howe's Deliberately Monochrome cinematography gives a chilling look to the Arizona scenery.

Along with most of the tropes also featured in Rashomon, The Outrage contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Villainy: While the commoner in Rashomon isn't revealed to have criminal tendencies until the climax, here he becomes a Con Man who's established upfront as a heel.
  • Bandito: Carrasco fits the trope in every possible way.
  • Brownface:
    • Paul Newman darkened his hair and wore makeup to look more Mexican as Carrasco. This may have been one of the reasons the film is Deliberately Monochrome, to make it look more convincing.
    • Veteran character actor Paul Fix (the son of German immigrants) plays the Native American elder, and also wears makeup.
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  • Con Man: Edward G. Robinson's character, who sells "Choctaw Herbal Elixir" and "magical lightning rods".
  • Crisis of Faith: The preacher is so shaken by the trial that he's decided to give up his ministry and leave town.
  • Cultural Translation: The setting gets changed from Heian Period Japan to the American southwest just after The American Civil War, and some substitutions are made to make the story conform better to that setting. The Japanese priest becomes a Protestant parson, the woodcutter is a Prospector, the husband is a Civil War veteran instead of a samurai, the knife and the reputed treasure the bandit found are now Aztec relics, and the priestess becomes a Native American medicine man.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The con man, though Edward G. Robinson hams him up a bit.
  • Death by Falling Over: According to the prospector, the husband tripped on a rock during his fight with Carrasco, and fell on his knife.
  • Fantastic Legal Weirdness: Having the husband "testify" via a medium was already pushing credibility in a medieval Japanese setting in Rashomon. The idea that an American Wild West court would accept it seems quite far out here.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The exact words are used by the con man to describe Carrasco and his habit of raping women.
  • Foreign Remake: With The Magnificent Seven becoming a classic, it was natural for Hollywood to want to give another Akira Kurosawa film the Western treatment. But, the contemplative, psychologically complex Rashomon was a very unlikely choice.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The con man uses the older sense of "toilet water" as a reference to what would now be called cologne or perfume.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Paul Newman gives Carrasco an almost comically exaggerated Mexican accent. Possibly Fridge Brilliance, if you assume that Carrasco chose to use that accent In-Universe to increase his badass image.
  • Magical Native American: The medicine man who channels the husband at the trial.
  • No Name Given: Juan Carrasco is the only named character, though dialogue reveals that the husband and wife have the last name Wakefield.
  • Period Piece: Takes place in The Wild West around 1866 or 1867.
  • Preacher Man: William Shatner's character, complete with black suit and hat.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: Well, of course, but given how well-known the Trope Namer was for this, this remake emphasizes that angle more than the original.
  • Secondary Adaptation: Not only of the film Rashomon (which itself is an adaptation), but of the 1959 Broadway play version, which also had Claire Bloom as the wife.
  • Shot-for-Shot Remake: There are a couple slight plot changes, but otherwise, it sticks very closely to the Rashomon template.
  • Third-Person Person: A trait Carrasco picked up from his role model Tajomaru, and amplified.
  • Unbuilt Trope: Using famous actors for a location-shot, quirky Western remake of a Jidaigeki film, dealing with unusual themes, this film feels like a proto-Spaghetti Western at times.
  • Uptown Girl: The husband is a member of a prominent Southern family, the wife was the daughter of their seamstress. It's revealed that this has put a strain on the marriage.
  • World of Ham: Broad theatrical acting across the board, with Paul Newman gobbling up acres of scenery and William Shatner at the top of his Cold Ham game.