The radical vision of One-Eyed Jacks.
This process begins with Rio's attempt to balance two seemingly commensurate values within the plot: betrayal and revenge. The elaboration and collapse of the revenge plot provides the context for the development of the film's social and political vision. We use Peter Brooks' theory of plot to analyze the narrative dynamic in which Rio's pursuit and deferral of revenge lead him to question and radically redefine his values and commitments. J. Hillis Miller's "logic of the parasite" suggests how relations of hospitality and gift-giving complicate the revenge plot and bind the main characters in a web of moral and political meanings. Our sense of the main patterns of relationship is shaped by traditional theories of contract, while Silvan Tomkins' discussion of shame and contempt helps us explore the emotional forces that drive the characters as they form two ethical and political coalitions, Mexican and American. Finally, Robert M. Cover's concept of nomos is useful in both analyzing the power-structures that obtain in the film and suggesting the visionary possibilities that transcend them.
The Revenge Plot
One-Eyed Jacks (1961) is a transformation of Charles Neider's novel The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones (1956). It takes from the book the subject of an Oedipal struggle between two characters, "the Kid"--an outlaw--and sheriff "Dad Longworth," one-time partners in crime and now on opposite sides of the law. But the circumstances and meaning of that struggle are entirely different in the two texts. In The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones the contest between the Kid (Hendry Jones) and Dad Longworth is impersonal. Longworth's decision to exchange outlawry for the sheriff's office follows the rise of the "anglos" in California, with their passion for law and order and the protection of property. In contrast, the Kid is a folk-hero to "greasers and Indians" (164), those who have lost out in the new political and social landscape of the West. The generational struggle between the Kid and Dad symbolizes the historical struggle between the old and the new West. Longworth understands that the "anglos" want California to "grow up", and he adapts. But the Kid will never grow up and is killed by the father-figure whose embrace of social maturity he will never share. In One-Eyed Jacks, the struggle between the Kid, now called "Rio," and Dad Longworth is personal. After robbing a bank together in Mexico, Rio and Longworth find themselves surrounded by rurales, with one horse between them. They agree that Longworth will ride off to get fresh mounts and return for Rio; but Longworth abandons his friend, who pays for their joint crime by spending the next five years in jail in Sonora. Longworth, meanwhile, has made his way to California where he has been elected sheriff" of Monterey. He is living in security and prosperity when Rio turns up, seeking revenge.
The revenge motive, absent from the novel but central to the film, is "traditional" in Westerns. (1) Here, it supplies the tension of the plot, sets the keynote of Brando's introverted performance as Rio, and determines the brooding atmosphere of the film as a whole. Brando's performance prompted critics to classify One-Eyed Jacks as a "psychological" western, (2) but the betrayal-and-revenge plot gives this film's psychology a particular cast. Of Longworth's nickname, Penelope Houston remarked that "Freudians are left to draw their own conclusions" (144); in fact, the film draws the conclusions for us, taking the Oedipal resonances of the relationship between the Kid and Dad much further than they are developed in Neider's novel. The film makes the Oedipal contest the story of a suffering son, betrayed again and again by a tyrannical, castrating father. Unsurprisingly, this plot has proved ripe for biographical interpretation; (3) but its intriguing narrative dynamic has gone largely unnoticed.
Peter Brooks has argued that every plot manifests a desire which is initiated by a problem to be solved or by an infraction of order. In One-Eyed Jacks this infraction is Dad Longworth's betrayal of the bonds of friendship when he breaks his promise to return for Rio; the problem to be solved is how Rio can avenge himself. Once Rio learns of Dad's treachery, his desire for revenge drives the narrative. Nurtured through the five years he spends in the Sonora jail, this desire defines his every action from the moment he regains his freedom. Asked, twice, to forget the vendetta, he replies, "Not as long as I breathe," and, later, "I gotta die to forget that." Abandoning the revenge motive equals death, for Rio cannot imagine life without it. Yet to achieve his goal would take away his reason for living--and bring the narrative to an end; so for the narrative to continue Rio must be always desiring, but never achieving, his revenge. His pursuit of revenge must function as a "narrative motor" to drive the plot, without the desired end coming too soon and short-circuiting the story (Brooks 48, 58). The logic of plot "insists that mediation of the problem posed at the outset takes time" (10)--time to allow viewers to develop their relation to the protagonist's desire, time to allow pleasurable elements of complication or suspense to be created, and time for the meaning of the action to be elaborated and conveyed. So the film must work to make the viewer share, but also come to question, Rio's desire for revenge; and it must work both to sustain that desire and to defer its satisfaction. This logic of detour and delay is not only a mechanism for expanding the narrative and generating suspense; it is determined by the highly imaginary nature of desire itself: "Lacan helps us to understand how the aims and imaginings of desire--its enactments in response to imaginary scenarios of fulfillment--move us from the realm of basic drives to highly elaborated fictions" (Brooks 105).
How does such a move from "basic drives" to "highly elaborated fictions" operate within the revenge plot of One-Eyed Jacks? Longworth's betrayal of Rio, the act that initiates the plot, is partly motivated by the most basic drive of all, the survival instinct. If he returns for Rio the odds against them will still be overwhelming and there is a good chance he will be killed. Facing this prospect, he opportunistically abandons Rio. However, there is an additional motive: greed. As far as Rio is concerned, this is the motive that counts. The careful way in which Longworth sweeps his hand over the dirt to recover every last coin from the spilt saddlebag signals his greedily calculating nature. Longworth's behavior here is more morally reprehensible than he can know, for the viewer has seen what he has not: in the lottery determining who would go for help, Rio held a bullet in each hand, thus ensuring that Longworth would ride and he would stay. This is the first of many accumulating deceptions that come to define their relationship, but unlike those that follow (on both sides) this one is well intentioned, and Rio's self-sacrificing act throws his partner's treachery into greater relief. The look on Rio's face when he is taken to the corral by the rurales establishes a significant differential of knowledge: he knows he was intentionally betrayed. That Longworth does not know Rio knows this is essential to the subsequent elaboration of the revenge plot.
We next see Rio after a jail-break, five years later, relentlessly obsessed with tracking down his betrayer. The discovery that Longworth is sheriff of Monterey both focuses Rio's search and intensifies his reasons for revenge. The plot now becomes more elaborate and potentially more satisfying: robbing the town bank, his associates can humiliate Longworth by striking at his "legal" authority; then Rio can kill him. After arriving in Monterey, Rio, now filmed as a figure of nemesis, rides out to Longworth's home. A series of contrasting shots reveals Longworth in his reconstructed state. He is soberly dressed in black, white, and grey, has grown a moustache, and is divested not only of his previous theatrical Mexican costume, but of all traces of "Western" dress. Living in a fine house by the sea, married, Longworth is evidently prospering in his private as well as his public life. Apparently redeemed, he has a lot to lose--more, indeed, than he knows. So, as Rio and Dad meet for the first time since they parted on the escarpment in Mexico, the stakes in the revenge plot have increased, and its possibilities have expanded.
On recognizing Rio, Longworth asks his wife for his gun, but soon finds himself awkwardly caught between defending and asserting himself. Rio's quest takes a surprising turn, for he apparently postpones his revenge, claiming--with a strange, pained smile--to be looking up his old friend as he passes through Monterey. He takes charge of the conversation by assuming the role of visitor--"Well, how you been?"--and then accepts Dad's offer of a drink. "Sit yourself," says Longworth, before launching into an elaborately fictitious account of what happened after they separated in Mexico. Rio's face is inscrutable; we know he knows Longworth is lying, but Dad is unsure. "Knowing me the way I used to be, I couldn't blame you for not believing. But if you're looking to be satisfied for what I did ... let me know where and when you want the play, and I'll stand up to you." Again Rio foregoes, or postpones, his chance of revenge. Brushing aside Dad's offer he lies again, inventing his own story of what happened in Mexico, almost as extravagantly circumstantial a piece of fiction as Dad's account. Longworth, overconfident of his own powers of deception, is himself easily deceived. "You're sure that's the straight of it?" he asks, and Rio assures him that it is: "A man can't stay angry for five years, now ... Can he?" Upon this irony they shake hands.
Why does Rio defer the revenge with which he has been obsessed? One answer is purely functional: Longworth's offer of satisfaction must be refused so that the story can continue. A second answer is that Rio is curious. Dad's lie prompts a fascination on Rio's part with his betrayer's bogus authority and identity. To discover what has been built upon his betrayal, to know what's truly at stake, Rio has to see inside Dad's house and his quick tour through the Longworth lifestyle suggests more to him than he can immediately process. Lying buys him time to observe, and to think. Whereas Longworth's lie is a retrospective statement of containment, a reorganization of the past that is fully intended to deceive, Rio's lie is a deferral, and thus forward-looking; it is an exploratory fiction to help him see exactly what his options are. A third answer to the question of why Rio delays is that he is improvising, casting about for a form of revenge adequate to the injury he suffered. During his five years in the Sonora jail Rio had plenty of time to work on "imaginary scenarios of fulfillment" (Brooks 105), and maybe the immediate possibility does not answer. So the offer "to be satisfied' is refused, because such satisfaction wouldn't satisfy. Desire demands more, although quite what it does demand is unclear at this point--to the viewer, and also to Rio. Although the men shake hands, twice, their joined hands mask a radical disconnection. Longworth is trying to foreclose the issue, Rio is biding his time.
With Rio's delay, the revenge motive becomes an "elaborated fiction," which challenges straightforward satisfaction. And the presence of Luisa, Longworth's step-daughter, introduces the possibility of other, richer and riskier meanings, beyond the revenge plot. We suggest that the revenge plot is infiltrated and then undone by what J. Hillis Miller has called "the logic of the parasite" (444). This logic enters the plot through the film's concerns with hospitality, reciprocity, gift-exchange, and "household economy" (443), and it subverts the much more straightforward narrative motor of revenge.
Meditating on the paired concepts of "parasite" and "host," Miller finds that "parasite" (literally "beside the grain") originally held the positive meaning of a dinner companion, a sharer of food; later it came to denote a guest who imposes himself on another and does not reciprocate the hospitality he receives; from here developed its current negative biological and social implications. Today "parasite" makes sense only in relation to its opposite, "host," but earlier in the language two could be equal sharers, or co-parasites. Similarly, "host" implies its opposite, "guest," but both words come from a common root, meaning "someone with whom one has reciprocal duties of hospitality" (442). Thus the relations of parasite to host, host to guest, were not always oppositional, and remain equivocal. When there are two "fellow guests 'beside the grain'" (444), which is the parasite and which is the host? Is the guest a "friendly presence" or an "alien invader" (442)? Miller's etymological investigation destabilizes the apparently simple distinctions conveyed by this set of words; and he further suggests that the play of thought over words related in sound though not in etymology (such as host/hostile/hostage, parasite/parricide, guest/ghost) increases our sense of possible sinister or subversive meanings within the parasite-host-guest triad.
The theme of hospitality enters the film with the meeting between Rio and Dad on the veranda of Longworth's house. Although wearing his badge and gun, it is as a householder that the new Dad is first seen; and it is as a guest, accepting the offer of a drink, that Rio plays out his fiction of equanimity. After their handshake, a relieved Longworth lets down his defences: "You know what you're going to do? You're going to stay to supper." The invitation is laughable for its banality and bathos, and only a man in love with his own newly-achieved bourgeois status could invest it with such smug self-importance. Rio has engineered his own apparent transformation from nemesis to dinner guest. Every choice he makes throughout the scene on the veranda works to deflect violent confrontation into seemingly more benign social relations. For if they are enemies, they should fight. ("You know me, Dad. If I didn't feel right about it, we'd have been out there splattering each other all over that front yard.") If they are not enemies, they can still be friends, formally if not substantially. If they are friends, they can share a drink, and then a meal. So Dad issues his invitation, and the relation of conflict is converted into one of hospitality: so much more slippery, so much more ambiguous, offering Rio so many more ingenious possibilities of revenge. Together the two men cross the threshold; Rio is inside Dad's home, and "the logic of the parasite," of the dangerous relation of guest and host, is engaged.
Dad is an expansive host. With the long-feared confrontation so quickly defused, the long-rehearsed lies so easily told, his relief is evident. Moreover, Rio's presence in his home sets the seal on his reconstruction. The past, it must seem, has truly been laid to rest when not only the citizens of Monterey, but even the partner he betrayed, do not reproach him for the deeds of his former self. A ghost has become a guest; with Rio beside him sharing the good things of his table, the haunting power of his own past actions is neutralized. There may be another, quite simple reason for Dad's pleasure in having Rio as a guest. It allows him, naively, to show off what he has gained in the last five years, all the material and social signs of his success: a dangerous pleasure when entertaining the man upon whose misfortune that success was built.
At dinner, it is immediately evident that in setting up a guest/ host relation with Rio Dad has brought into play forces which he cannot control. This guest subverts the patriarchal authority of his host in word and deed. Rio munches bread while Dad says grace, and afterwards, grinning broadly, comments: "I never knowed you to pray over the grub before, Dad!" Unconstrained by either piety or manners, he glances about the room as if gauging how to exploit the situation. A better opportunity than he could have hoped for is handed to him by Luisa when she invites him to stay for the town fiesta on the morrow. Her invitation extends and complicates the hospitable relation with Rio initiated by her stepfather and gives the plot a new turn. By the time Rio leaves the house, thanks to Luisa's invitation, he has more effective means to revenge himself on Longworth than by simply killing him. Now he can strike at his home and family, at the very basis of his patriarchal identity.
The seduction of Luisa is set up by Rio's purchase of a necklace from a flowerseller at the fiesta. "A little birdseed," Rio calls it, leaving us in no doubt about the cynical nature of his actions. We already know about Rio and gifts. Following the bank robbery in Sonora, he gives a ring stolen from a bank customer to the Mexican senorita he intends to seduce. That seduction is interrupted by Dad's arrival with news of the rurales' pursuit, whereupon Rio unceremoniously wrests the ring from her finger, with the words "Sorry sweetheart." The seduction of Luisa closely recalls this earlier scene, as Rio uses many of the same lines: "My mother gave this to me just before she died. It would mean an awful lot if you'd wear it," and "You don't have no idea how good that makes me feel." Rio's routine with women works as easily here as it did with the senorita. But this time Rio does not easily walk away from what he has done. The difference is Luisa. As part of his ploy Rio has told her, "You're the most decent woman I've ever met," and it is her decency, her candor, and her emotional openness that will trouble his conscience and complicate his desire for revenge against her step-father.
Miller argues that "To receive or give a gift is a profoundly dangerous or equivocal act" (445), because gift-giving ensnares both giver and receiver in a chain of consequences. Rio's gift to Longworth at the beginning of the film--the chance of freedom--was a great gift, yet a false one and, however well-intentioned, has proven dangerous for them both. To receive a gift has been dangerous for Luisa: in consequence she loses her virginity, becomes pregnant, and faces social as well as familial disgrace. But to give the gift, and to receive it back--for when he disabuses her of her illusions the morning after the fiesta, Luisa returns the necklace to him--also proves dangerous for Rio. It makes his position equivocal, corrupting the single-minded pursuit of revenge that had hitherto consumed his thoughts and emotions. The "little chain" of gift-giving (Miller 445), in this case actualized in the silver chain Rio winds about his fingers, ensnares him just as much as, if not more than, Luisa.
The reciprocal obligations of contract are traditionally figured in legal theory as a vinculum juris, a chain of law binding the parties to each other (Maine 269). The necklace symbolizes such a chain as well as initiating a particular contract. Across centuries and cultures contractual intentions have been signified by such formal acts as "the ceremonial handclasp" and "the delivery and acceptance of the unambiguous token" (Llewellyn 711). Rio makes clear that the necklace is an explicit substitution for an engagement ring, which--like Longworth's extended hand--is an accepted sign of contract in social behavior, an "overt sign of utter intent to assume obligation" (Llewellyn 712). Rio is willing to manipulate the "overt signs" of contract in shaking hands with Dad and in giving the necklace to Luisa for his own cynical ends, but in the second instance he finds himself more and more bound by the form of contract he has used to deceive and ensnare her. For as soon as he has possessed her sexually he regrets his behavior. "I shamed you" he tells her, after his confession of the previous night's lies. Luisa's reply, "You only shame yourself," gives him back his shame by turning his language back on himself, but in an educative rather than an accusative gesture. The word itself now functions as the "overt sign" of their bond. As Luisa returns Rio's shame to him, she also gives him back the necklace. The returned necklace becomes a personal symbol of Rio's shame; the false token now becomes a token of truth, and (eventually) a metonym for the child that Luisa is carrying. It also symbolizes the contractual chain that binds Longworth, Luisa, and Rio into a complex of social, moral, and political meanings.
The psychological basis of this complex is best explained by some theories of affect advanced by Silvan Tomkins, in particular his analysis of the contrasting emotional patterns of shame and contempt. Because shame is felt as "an inner" torment" or "sickness of the soul" (118), Tomkins claims that shame "is the most reflexive of affects in that the phenomenological distinction between the subject and object of shame is lost" (133). Contempt, on the other hand, "is a response in which there is least self-consciousness, with the most intense consciousness of the object, which is experienced as disgusting" (128). In self-contempt, therefore, the self splits, and "part of the self assumes the role of a judge.... The self is experienced as part subject and part object, or as two different selves at different times. Under such bifurcation the offending self or part of the self may also be punished by the judging self" (135). The experience of shame is quite different, for "when the self is ashamed of itself, the judge and the offender are one and the same" (135).
Following his seduction of Luisa, Rio is torn between shame and self-contempt. This struggle is dramatically enacted in the saloon the morning after the fiesta. Locked in self-contempt, Rio is prompted to a disastrous outburst of anger at the ill-treatment of a Mexican woman by Howard, the man who had danced mockingly with her at the fiesta the previous evening. Nervously dallying with the necklace that Luisa returned to him, ignoring his food, Rio is obviously disgusted with himself. His disgust finds an objective correlative in Howard's behavior towards the Mexican woman, which is an intensified re-enactment of his exploitation of Luisa; for Howard metaphorically rapes the woman by forcing food and drink on her, to her obvious distress. Rio gets up from his seat, approaches the bar, pays for his food, smiles "Morning" at Howard, then punches him across the room and onto the floor. In Tomkins's terms, Howard conveniently stands in for Rio's offending self, which here gets vigorously punished by his judging self. As Rio walks away, Howard reaches for a shotgun. Still lying on the floor he picks it up, cocks and aims at Rio's back, when Modesto calls out a warning to his friend. Rio turns, draws, and shoots, killing Howard.
Having killed a man, Rio is now within the power of Dad Longworth, who uses his legal authority to settle his personal score with Rio. This sequence, which culminates in Rio's brutal whipping by Longworth, is beautifully orchestrated. (4) Three key figures who have behaved at the fiesta with varying degrees of offensiveness and irresponsibility--Rio, Howard, and Longworth--come together the morning after in a fatal but revealing pattern of self-contempt; for if Rio's attack on Howard is an expression of self-contempt, so too is Longworth's whipping of Rio. This act both intensifies the revenge plot, and compounds Longworth's own internal drama, which began five years ago when he chose to leave Rio to his fate; Longworth's judging self now takes its revenge on his offending self, personified by Rio. "Your gun days are over," says Longworth to Rio, after brutally smashing his right hand with a rifle-butt. It is the hand that he has himself shaken, twice, so this action, the culmination of the beating, is also the climactic expression of his self-contempt. The Rio/Howard, Longworth/Rio configuration symbolically suggests that both Rio and Longworth are stuck at the stage of self-contempt; both beatings are forms of vicarious or displaced self-punishment. Notwithstanding their antagonism towards, and resentment of each other, Longworth and Rio have more in common, psychologically, than they can acknowledge.
Rio has to move beyond self-contempt by embracing the integrated identity offered by his shame. This is his dark night of the soul--Tomkins's "inner torment" or "sickness of the soul"--in which, exiled by his injury to the beach, Rio nurses himself back to both physical health and psychic resolution. This progress is guided by Luisa and focuses on the necklace that has passed between them. In one powerful, non-verbal scene we see Rio, alone, brooding by the ocean, fondling and looking at the necklace Luisa returned to him. Because shame alone, at this point, is what binds him to Luisa, the necklace symbolizes the shame with which he is obsessed but which he must incorporate into himself.
The necklace subsequently appears at the end of a ten-minute sequence between Luisa and Rio. As Rio practices his gunplay on the beach (his hand now well on the mend) Luisa appears on horseback. She intends to tell Rio of her pregnancy, but this purpose is frustrated by the intrusion of the past, as Rio tells her what happened five years ago between Longworth and himself. Now, he says, he is going to kill Longworth, and "When it's over I was hoping you'd come away with me." Luisa resists this by shifting "kill" into "murder," and offering him a clear alternative: "Rio, there are not many chances in life to be happy, and I think that we have a good one now." But there is an unacceptable contingency: "Won't you try to forget this?" Rio's refusal blocks any way forward for them, and Luisa leaves him locked in his obsession with Longworth. After she leaves, he takes out the necklace again. This is the last time we see the necklace in the film, and its symbolic force and metonymic function are never more apparent than they are here; it is as if Rio, contemplating the shame that binds them, has a subconscious awareness of the pregnancy she decided not to tell him about. Rio's shame is greater than Luisa can know, for he never tells her that she was a tactical instrument in his changing strategy of revenge. This is a creative concealment, for--like his earlier lies to Longworth--it keeps the future open. Witholding this information from Luisa amounts to an unconscious abandonment of Rio's revenge. By safeguarding his relationship with Luisa, he allows himself the possibility of pursuing a different kind of plot--a love story.
Sitting by the swirling surf and looking at the necklace, turning it over in his hands, Rio surely broods on the baffling structural links between his revenge and his shame. These links are about to be severed as, in order to embrace his shame, he abandons his revenge. After Luisa's visit, we see Amory, Johnson, and Modesto in the hideaway playing cards for money. Rio rests his feet on a chair, his eyes closed. Tensions within the gang, and especially between Rio and Bob, surfaced as soon as they arrived in Monterey, and have been increasing since Rio's beating by Longworth. This tension comes as much from a clash of values and temperaments as from frustration at not being able to take the bank. Rio needs exert no force in what Amory tries to turn into a power straggle, for he has the natural authority, and Amory's resentment is provoked as much by this as by the delay caused by the injury. He taunts Rio for not taking part in the card game, then says, referring to Rio's recent meeting with Luisa: "The boy's all petered out from playin' on the beach with that little jumpin' bean." "That's right," Harvey chips in, "should have shared her with us," and Rio explodes into aggression, as he did in the saloon. (The provocative line comes from Harvey, but Rio turns on Bob.) However, the cowardly Amory does not respond to his challenge, and Rio himself backs down at the crucial moment. There is no need to attack Bob here, as Rio attacked Howard in the earlier scene. Because Rio is no longer in the grip of self-contempt, he does not need to split himself into a (judging) subject and an (offending) object, and find another object to stand in for the self he needs to punish. Embracing the shame given him by Luisa, he has transcended his self-contempt and need trouble himself no more about Bob Amory. The scene ends with a subtle visual rhyme that directly recalls the saloon sequence. As Rio walks away from Amory he turns his back on him--now an integrated being, in no danger from his offending self. Modesto waits, prepared to back him up, but this time there is nothing for him to do but follow Rio out.
The Social Vision
As he walks away from Amory, Rio walks away from the planned bank robbery and, crucially, from his quest for revenge. It becomes clear in the next scene, between Rio and Modesto, that the gang's business is over. Modesto has rightly inferred that the robbery is off, but revenge has been laid aside too, and Rio tells Modesto that he is going into Monterey next day for Luisa. "What about Longworth?" Modesto asks. "I just pray to God I don't run into him," Rio replies. Although the revenge plot is over for Rio, it is not so for Dad, who wants only the slightest excuse to carry out his goal of eliminating the hostile guest, the unsettling ghost, the intolerable witness to the past.
Suspense now centers on whether Rio can free himself from the web of betrayal and vengeance and escape the destructive energies he himself unleashed. To survive and achieve his new goal--union with Luisa--he must also extricate himself from the subsidiary plot set up by Amory. The two men came to Monterey in a temporary alliance that disguised their cross-purposes. Amory wanted to rob the bank, Rio to kill Longworth. Now that Rio has abandoned his revenge he has also abandoned Amory, whose scheme was always a sideshow as far as Rio was concerned. The frustration of Amory's purpose inflames the resentment that is his natural response to Rio, and this plays a decisive part in shaping the final developments of the film. Always the wild card in Rio's game with Longworth, Amory will not be easily brushed aside when Rio changes course, and he now shows himself to be a dangerously unpredictable force. In this last movement of the film, then, Rio has let go of the revenge plot, but it has not let go of him. For Rio, eros has replaced thanatos as the "narrative motor," the driving force of the plot. But Rio finds himself caught up in the aftermath of the revenge from which Luisa has liberated him. Longworth and Amory are still pursuing their own goals, and the revenge plot continues to thicken even after Rio has abandoned his personal vengeance.
For the rest of the film, the characters arrange themselves into two distinct sets, according to their allegiance to or affinity with either Longworth or Rio. One set consists of Longworth, his deputy Lon, and two of the bandits, Bob Amory and Harvey Johnson. The other consists of Rio, his partner Modesto, and the two women, Luisa and Maria. Some of these alliances have been constant throughout the film (Lon and Longworth, Rio and Modesto). But there are also radical reconfigurations: the robbers' gang is split, as is Longworth's family. The new alignments cut across the law/outlaw distinction, but they show a clear ethnic patterning: we might call them "the Americans" and "the Mexicans." These groupings are the key to understanding the social values and political vision of One-Eyed Jacks. Robert M. Cover argues that there are two dimensions to law: law as a system of meaning, or a world-creating potential (vision), and law as the imposition of force, or a world-maintaining power (reality). A society's normative world, or nomos, Cover claims, is "a present world constituted by a system of tension between reality and vision" (9). Cover's idea of nomos may be used to interpret the opposed world-views of the Americans and the Mexicans in One-Eyed Jacks.
The morning after Luisa's visit to the Punta and Rio's outburst against Amory, Rio prepares to ride into Monterey, while the other three gang members leave together. Modesto believes they are returning to Mexico, but Amory and Johnson still plan to take the bank. When Modesto tries to stop them because it would "make a lot of trouble for Rio," they kill him. Amory then rides to Longworth's home outside Monterey, and delivers a message, ostensibly from Rio, that Rio is coming in to kill him. Dad waits at home for the showdown that never comes, thereby leaving a clear field for the bank robbers in town. When he discovers how he was fooled, he assumes that the ruse was planned by Rio to facilitate the robbery, and he sets out with his men to hunt him down.
Amory's lie, which incriminates Rio, bonds Amory and Longworth, as the self-professed outlaw and the elected sheriff collaborate to make Rio a victim of the law. It seems that, although now on opposite sides of the law, Amory and Longworth inhabit the same mental universe. They both covet wealth and will do almost anything to get it. But money does not concern Rio. When, on the beach, Rio tells Luisa of her step-father's betrayal of him, his rhetorical question is laced with scorn at the imbalance between money and justice: "And you know what for? Two sacks of gold." And Rio seems aware of the similarities between Longworth and Amory. When he speaks to his new partner, he injects the same note of undercutting irony into the monosyllable "Bob" that he attaches to the name "Dad" from the time they meet again in Monterey; indeed, he uses the same tone in addressing Lon, Dad's deputy, preferred suitor for his step-daughter, and general heir-apparent. Lon, Dad, and Bob are united, despite their different positions in relation to the law, by the contemptible moral code they share. All three enjoy power over women and show disdain for people of other races. Lon's attitude to Luisa is as racist and exploitative as Bob's to Modesto or to his Chinese hosts at the Punta, or, for that matter, as Longworth's attitude to Maria. Dad hides these qualities well--it is only near the end of the film that he reveals the racial as well as patriarchal exploitation in his marriage--but in Lon and Bob they are overt, as they are in Bob's partner Harvey and in the bar-room drunk, Howard.
Howard's dancing at the fiesta enacts an allegory of the relation between power and ethnicity in Monterey. A woman whose dress identifies her with old Spanish Monterey performs a flamenco for the crowd. Howard ogles her, throws money at her, then joins her (uninvited) on stage; his drunken movements are both mocking and threatening, and his final embrace, to which she submits passively, expresses nothing but aggression and an arrogant sense of entitlement. This grotesque scene is an image of conquest. More subtly, Longworth's position as the "big man" of Monterey is also symbolic of the nature of American ascendancy in once-Mexican California. Longworth's position is based on treachery and guile as much as force. His status which fits with one compelling interpretation of the relations of Mexicans and Americans in nineteenth-century California. Robert Louis Stevenson, who lived in Monterey for four months in 1879 and whose work Charles Neider knew well, (5) found that Monterey "was essentially and wholly Mexican; and yet almost all the land in the neighbourhood was held by Americans, and it was from the same class, numerically so small, that the principal officials were selected" (Stevenson 63). "Yankee craft" (63), he believed, was responsible for the dominance of the Americans. The old Spanish town had fallen into the hands of a new breed of "designing men" (63), and in this Stevenson argued that Monterey's history was "typical of that of all Mexican institutions and even Mexican families in California" (60).
One-Eyed Jacks, whose Monterey action is set in 1885, five years after Stevenson's essay, imagines a town ruled by one of these "designing men." In the film, everyone in Monterey knows that Dad used to be a bandit. But everyone does not know, and he furiously denies, that he betrayed his friend and built his new life on the basis of that betrayal: he cannot allow to be known, cannot even admit to himself, the moral corruption underlying his new life of bourgeois respectability and success. Longworth's name is ironic, for his moral worth is small, but it conveys his aspirations--achieved at the point that Rio rides back into his life--to acquire moral, social, political, financial and even spiritual capital. When we first see the soberly dressed Dad at his home outside Monterey we may suspect that he has joined the ranks of Yankee hypocrites. When we see and hear him saying grace at the dinner table, piously and at length, we know it, and the hand covering his eyes signifies his habitual hiding of his true self.
In Monterey, Dad Longworth, as the elected sheriff, represents what Cover calls "the social organization of law as power" (18). But in the public statement with which he opens the fiesta (the first time we see him in his public persona of sheriff), Longworth invokes "the organization of law as meaning" (18). Thanking the townsfolk for electing him to another term as sheriff, he says that he "will continue to do my best to make this city, and to make this county, a place where we can be proud to raise our children." With this speech Longworth claims a place at the center of the celebrations, as a representative not only of law and order, but also of democratic processes and institutions, which are the source of his authority. But such public rhetoric has no substantial counterpart in the world represented in the film, and the law as we see it in Monterey is entirely a matter of power.
Longworth's public statement at the fiesta is yet another lie, a social counterpart to the private lie on which his life is built. The cuts to Rio during Dad's brief speech remind us that he is the only person who knows the depth of Longworth's duplicity, the extent of his hypocrisy. But visually Longworth gives himself away. At the end of his speech he signals the beginning of festivities by ordering the band to start playing, whereupon he launches into a solitary dance. His unpartnered state suggests many things: his breaking of the bonds of friendship with Rio; his disconnection from his wife, whom he conspicuously does not partner through the night of the fiesta; most importantly, a failure in his relation to the community, already suggested by the positioning of his house outside the town. His dance at the fiesta is an unknowing self-parody: as master of ceremonies and Lord of Misrule, he mocks his institutional role even as he plays it out on the communal stage.
Cover maintains that "Legal meaning is a challenging enrichment of social life, a potential restraint on arbitrary power and violence" (68). Monterey in One-Eyed Jacks is the converse of this, for there is no legal meaning, indeed nothing in the impoverished social life of the community to restrain the arbitrary power and violence of Longworth himself, which becomes clear the day after the fiesta, when he carries out his vicious and vindictive whipping of Rio. At the saloon, Rio has killed a man in self-defense--there are witnesses to that. Confident that he has committed no crime, he sits on the bar, awaiting Longworth's arrival. The shot is a visual rhyme with the film's opening image of Rio sitting on the counter during the bank robbery in Sonora, and this may remind the viewer of the two men's shared past, heightening the irony of their present relations. While the earlier shot showed Rio toying with a pair of scales, the later shot incorporates a copy of the Mona Lisa, smiling her famously enigmatic smile. This Western, card-playing Mona Lisa presides over the conversation between Longworth and Rio when the sheriff arrives at the saloon to assess the situation. The image suggests that in the game of tactics and deception between the two men a decisive card is about to be played. At the saloon, Longworth gives Rio the clear impression that he has no case to answer, but soon he reveals his real intentions, and Rio finds himself covered by marksmen positioned in various buildings commanding the street. "There's enough shotgun down there to start a war," Bob Amory remarks. Longworth orders Rio tied to a post, tears his shirt open, then whips him brutally. Thus the tyrannical father crucifies the son, and in a distinctively Western mode, for it is the looseness of Western legal institutions that allows the vengefulness of the father free rein. (6)
The mise-en-scene for Dad Longworth's whipping of Rio is a streetscape still festooned with the decorations from the previous night's fiesta, an occasion that has been explicitly presented as a celebration of community, citizenship, and hospitality in Monterey. The social and political meaning of the sheriff's beating of the visitor/outlaw is in tension with the social and political meanings suggested by the festive decoration of the streetscape. With the whipping of Rio, we see that Dad's town and Bob's gang are counterparts of each other--Longworth's tyranny merely represents anarchy in the imperial mode--and it is fitting that Bob watches the whipping of his supposed partner with equanimity from an upstairs window; his later explanation to Rio that "there was nothin' we could do" echoes Longworth's explanation to Rio of his behavior in Mexico five years earlier.
When Longworth and Amory collude to deliver Rio to an angry citizenry that is almost a lynch mob, we realize that this is an inherently violent society where law and crime are only seemingly opposed. There is no difference between Amory's summary execution of Modesto and the judicial murder Longworth has planned for Rio. As sheriff, Longworth can use "justice" as a cover for revenge, and does not even try to hide the fact that this justice is personal. As he says to Rio in jail, "You'll get a fair trial. And then I'm going to hang you, personally." Later, taking even greater advantage of the looseness of Western legal institutions, Longworth apparently decides to bypass a trial, explaining to Maria that "his execution will be a day earlier, that's all." Having reached this determination he sets off for town, unhurried and deliberate, proper and sober in his suit of Yankee clothes, to commit murder. Longworth seems to be smiling quietly to himself as he anticipates the elimination of Rio and thereby the erasure of the sign of his own guilt. But the brilliantly visualized sequence of his ride into town suggests another side to his state of mind, for as his horse delicately picks its way along the coast road, the Pacific breakers roar, suggesting the psychic turmoil underlying Longworth's behavior, and the exposed roots of the trees show twisted and tangled, symbolizing Longworth's motives and defenses.
In discordant contrast to Rio's development, the film offers the counter-progress of Longworth. If Rio integrates his personality, Longworth implodes, and his learned cohesiveness fragments and turns against itself. His behavior becomes more extreme, for bad though the beating of Rio is, it at least takes place in the open, whereas his subsequent pursuit and persecution of Rio is covert, harnessing Bob Amory's duplicity to his own ends. What Tomkins would call his endopsychic conflict intensifies: "To turn the tables on the judging self, so that the judging self is stripped of his power to condemn the accused self, the latter may repeat and exaggerate his offences to prove his invulnerability to contempt, whether from the other or from the internalized other within the self. He becomes not shameless but contemptless in his behavior" (153). This is exactly Dad Longworth's condition; earlier, his judging self had its say, but now the accused self comes into its own. Trapped by his self-contempt, he can only spiral deeper into it in his futile struggle to maintain the power of his normative world--"this decent life," as he puts it--in Monterey.
One of the film's great scenes sees Longworth decisively exposed by Maria, and the politics of their marriage laid bare. In the second of the meals that we see in his home, Longworth eagerly heaps his plate with food, secure in both domestic and civic authority, comfortable in the enjoyment of his own table, and complacent in the knowledge that Rio will soon be dead. Maria does not eat, and her questions about Rio quickly blunt her husband's appetite. When she asks if "he" will hang, Longworth affects not to know whom she is talking about, and he can not respond directly to her questions about truth. "It is the truth?" she asks, of the story of Longworth's betrayal of his friend. "The truth? Why, he'd choke on the truth" is Longworth's response. But he has been found out. From the time that Rio appeared in her house Maria acquired a new perspective on her husband, a window on his fear and weakness. Her relationship with her husband is--as he makes brutally clear in this exchange--contingent on his power and authority, but Maria has already asserted herself against these by lying to protect Luisa from him. In doing this she has liberated herself from her husband's vision and his values, and allied herself with Rio and her daughter. At the table she occupies the place at Dad's left hand where Rio sat in the earlier meal scene, a position that increases the sense that she is assuming his role as the literally sinister guest, subverting Longworth's authority. To her husband's evident annoyance, by speaking of and to some extent for Rio, she brings him back into their home, a ghostly presence or secret sharer at their table.
Longworth reminds her, in an outburst of sanctimonious bourgeois hubris, that he gave her and her daughter bed, board, and "respectability"; he speaks of Maria and Luisa as if they were parasites--like Rio, hostile guests--whom he has generously hosted, and who are now attacking him. But this appeal to his status as paterfamilias does not deter Maria from bringing him home to the truth: "You will do anything to hide that memory of what you did to him." Memory is the source of Longworth's self-contempt, which now surges powerfully back. As Louisa gave Rio back his shame, so Maria returns his contempt to her husband. And, in an echo of her daughter's words when Luisa tried to get Rio to put aside his desire for revenge, she tells Longworth that "Killing [Rio] will not help." It will not help because Longworth's problem is not Rio, but himself.
Defense of her daughter's needs drives Maria to defy her husband; she has no personal commitment to Rio, but speaks on his behalf, she explains, "because I don't want my daughter to suffer as I did." Luisa is to be, as Maria was, an unmarried mother. The patriarchal society in which they live demands that female sexuality be contained and stamped by the name of the father. Here women like Maria and Luisa are sexual outlaws, whose subversion of patriarchy must be punished. Within the value-system shared by Longworth, Lon, Bob, and Harvey, the transgressive sexuality of these women diminishes their rights as human beings and is linked to their diminished rights and second-class status as Mexicans in America. "Is this the thanks I get for taking you out of the beanfields?" Longworth asks Maria when she dares to question his treatment of Rio. "I gave your daughter my name--mine!--when she had none of her own." Bob calls Luisa "that little jumping bean," revealing that he regards her not as a person with individual emotional commitments but as a general resource for sexual diversion, that men like Harvey and himself have a right to share. "One more ain't going to make no difference," says Lon to Luisa when she returns home from her night with Rio, sneering and grabbing at her with a sense of entitlement he could never show towards an Anglo woman.
The bond between Maria and Luisa as victims of such attitudes is beautifully conveyed in two scenes, both taking place in Luisa's bedroom, in which they speak (untranslated) Spanish to each other: the first when Luisa admits to her mother that she has been seduced by Rio, the second when she tells her of her pregnancy. These private, interior, feminine scenes suggest an alternative realm of experience and values to that which prevails in the masculine world outside. In the second scene, particularly, Luisa's bent head suggests shame, but her and Maria's subsequent actions show that these women are able to face their shame, which is exactly what Longworth could never do. Maria's own experience of shame as an unmarried mother allows her to empathize with, rather than judge, her daughter. Luisa shows her ability to empathize with both Rio and Longworth. In her conversation with Rio at the Punta, she provides a lesson in what Tomkins calls "the vicarious experience of shame" (223), saying of her father's beating of Rio: "I was ashamed for him," not of him. In Tomkins's words: "The human being is capable through empathy and identification of living through others and therefore of being shamed by what happens to others" (223). Both women display this capacity, while also enjoying a coherence of self that protects them from the regimes of contempt with which men such as Longworth and Lon try to control them. "The beginning of self-contempt is the internalization of the contemptuous other," Tomkins argues (251). Maria and Luisa never internalize "the contemptuous other" and they remain, therefore, free from that "contempt of the self for the self and its feelings" (259) that is the mark of Longworth's psychic conflict.
Luisa is right. There are not many chances for happiness in life, and even fewer for Mexicans in American California. The treatment of Modesto, Rio's cellmate from Sonora, by the other gang members, Bob and Harvey, exemplifies this, and shows how the final phase of the film consolidates two opposed value-systems, expressed through the two ethnic groupings. The character of Modesto is revolutionary in a Western film. Although critics have been scornful of Brando's avowed intention to launch a frontal assault on "the temple of cliches" defining the Western genre (Feinstein 61), here if nowhere else he surely succeeded. The stereotypical American film representation of the Mexican as lazy, cowardly, deceitful, and inept is overturned, (7) for Modesto is brave, loyal, honest, a source of wise counsel and good companionship, and in every way the opposite of the false friend, Longworth. Like Luisa, Modesto urges Rio to give up his revenge in favor of a more life-affirming vision and offers him a place in his modest version of the good life. There is a danger of his becoming the faithful sidekick, but in his final scene, in which he attempts to prevent Bob and Harvey from putting Rio in danger and pays with his life, he is truly noble.
Before he kills Modesto, Bob taunts him with racial insults, calling him "greaser," the standard American derogatory name for a Mexican (which Bob even spells out for emphasis) and, in a mocking appropriation of Spanish dialect, "cholo" (mestizo or half-breed). In the previous scene, Modesto and Rio have called each other "chico," indicating their affectionate, equal relationship. In its portrayal of Modesto and his friendship with Rio, One-Eyed Jacks relates to the growing ethnic consciousness and civil rights aspirations of Mexican Americans in the post-war period, which would consolidate as the Chicano Movement in the 1960s. The film's pro-Chicano politics are characteristic of Brando's liberal sympathies and are an essential dimension of the nomos, the social and political vision offered as an alternative to the Longworth-Amory view of the world. One of the film's many departures from its source-novel, The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones, is the hero's name. Hendry Jones becomes "Rio," a Spanish word and lilting disyllable, which cannot fit in the set of monosyllabic American names, Dad-Bob-Lon; rather, it finds its rhyme in "Modesto." And, although Rio has partnered two of the Americans in crime, he does not share their contempt for women and people of other races. Rio may be Mexican himself; his origins are unknown--"I never knowed nothing about my mother," "I wasn't anything more than a kid when Dad picked me up"--but he is certainly Mexican-identified, as is evident in his dress. (8) He behaves protectively towards a series of Mexican women against the insults and aggressions of American men and, unlike the American gang members, he is friendly and respectful towards his Chinese hosts at the fishing village. In his name, his dress, and his actions, then, he is consistently identified with whatever or whomever is different from, and victimized by, the male Americans.
Reviewing One-Eyed Jacks, Henry Hart complained, "First, a bank robber is the hero. Second, the villain is the sheriff, the personification of law and order. Third, the Mexicans in this story are noble and the Americans are stinkers.... Fourth, all the moral values which make human society possible are flouted" (233). But we believe that the film asks, what are the moral values that make human society possible? The film is deeply engaged with this political question, but its main problem is finding adequate expression for its political vision. In using ethnic groupings to express this vision, the film is vulnerable to the criticism (voiced by Hart), that it is too schematic, romanticizing Mexicans and vilifying Americans (233). Yet the ethnic groupings illuminate political subjects other than race. The American coalition is male and patriarchal. The Mexican grouping, which includes both men and women, is anti-patriarchal: the transgressive sexuality of Luisa and Maria, already discussed, subverts patriarchal authority, while Luisa and Rio are alike in that neither has a patronym. Longworth makes clear that he has given his name to the illegitimate Luisa at the price of total obedience and eternal gratitude, a price she chooses not to pay. Rio has only one name, which places him outside patriarchal systems of identification. Longworth and Amory (and the lesser members of the American group, Lon, Harvey, and Howard) are enmeshed in contests for power which have death as their only possible outcome. In abandoning his revenge, Rio moves away from this mode of being and embraces the eros-driven, life-affirming goals of Luisa, Modesto, and Maria. Finally, the American characters have a world-view based on contempt, which results in sharp subject-object splits (both within the individual and between the individual and others), hierarchies of power, and relations of violence and control. Among the Mexican group we see a willingness to face and embrace shame, which allows for integration of the self and empathy toward others; for as Tomkins maintains, shame, being empathic rather than hierarchical, is the internalization of the democratic ideal. (9)
It is easy to cite the values that the film opposes: patriarchal power, imperial conquest, racism, the abuse of women, money as a governing force in human behavior. It is almost as easy to list the values it espouses: respect for women, support for the racially oppressed, friendship, love, equality. But while the first set of values is not only embodied in the Yankee villains but also implied in the civitas of Monterey, the second set, while strongly associated with the Mexican characters, has no concrete embodiment in a place or community or social structure. This is the problem of the ending of One-Eyed Jacks. The logic of the revenge plot reaches twisted fulfillment in the aftermath of the second bank robbery, in Monterey, as Rio, having escaped from jail, finds himself trapped into carrying out the revenge he has put aside. "There wasn't nothin' else to do," he tells Luisa after shooting Longworth in the back. Rio has been dramatically overtaken by events. He does not even know that Modesto is dead, let alone that his friend died trying to help him. Justice, either legal or poetic, is in short supply, and the film's original ending (which was Brando's idea) bleakly acknowledges this: "Rio and Louisa [sic] escape on horseback while the dying Dad gets off one last shot, hitting his stepdaughter in the back. Rio sees Louisa bleeding, and, broken, decides to stop running.... [S]he dies in his arms" (Manso 491). As Karl Malden, who played Longworth, put it, "in the original ending all three of us are finished. When he takes her back into the town in his arms, the townspeople come out and presumably it's the end for him, too" (quoted by Manso 491). This dark and tragic finale acknowledges Luisa's crucial place in the Rio-Dad dynamic and the impossibility of realizing a future for Luisa and Rio based on the values they stand for.
The "happy" ending forced on the film by Paramount executives cannot overcome this problem. Rejecting the normative world of Monterey, it cannot realize an alternative, and the question of how Rio and Luisa can ever be together remains powerfully problematic. "We'll find some place," says Rio to Luisa as he parts from her, but it is hard to imagine where. "I know a little place," Modesto had said earlier. "It's not much, but you can live quiet there." But Modesto is dead, and Rio is running out of places to go. In this Western by the sea any further movement westward--that staple of American social disenchantment--is blocked by the ocean. To the south is Sonora with its prison and rurales (and however the film may romanticize Mexicans in America, it has no illusions about Mexico as a repressive political entity); there remains only the north--"maybe Oregon," as Rio says, unconvincingly. He tells Luisa to look for him in the spring, but what he says next implies the impossibility of being human in the world they have inherited: "One of them dark nights you're gonna see a jackass in the wind, and it's gonna be me."
Luisa and Rio can only look to a relationship beyond the legal world, beyond society. Poignantly caught between political reality and radical vision, they take us to the threshold of a new nomos, but without showing us what it has to offer. As a hero in search of a workable political vision, Rio is more of an outlaw at the end of the film than he was at the beginning, both in the literal sense of being a fugitive from more jurisdictions and in the larger sense that his commitment to Luisa reaches beyond any social meanings articulated in the film. The film may romanticize outlawry, as Hart claimed (233), but it makes precise and subtle distinctions between true outlawry, which is an anarchistic disavowal and subversion of oppressive social norms, and the merely strategic or opportunistic outlawry of Bob Amory or the younger Longworth, in which laws are broken but dominant social norms upheld.
One-Eyed Jacks mounts a formidable case against "the social organization of law as power," but it struggles to convert its oppositional politics into an effectively imagined alternative social order and has little sense of how the institutions of civil society can be organized into new modes of meaning. This may be because in 1959 when the film was substantially completed Dwight D. Eisenhower was still President of the United States. The liberal idealism of John F. Kennedy's New Frontier, of Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society, and of Earl Warren's reformist Supreme Court had yet to make its presence felt. The "rights" movements of the 60s, which the film so clearly anticipates, had yet to take off. 1959 may have seemed just too soon to seek a newer world.
The authors wish to thank Dr. Paul Allatson (University of Technology, Sydney) for sharing his knowledge of Chicano history.
(1) See Bignell 106, 107. The film's early reviewers also claimed more venerable generic precedents. Penelope Houston compared it to "a Jacobean tragedy of pride and revenge" (144), and Herbert Feinstein called it "a six-million-dollar Elizabethan revenge tragedy" (60). On its release One-Eyed Jacks was also compared by reviewers to Hamlet, Heart of Darkness, Beowulf, Wuthering Heights, Rob Roy, Browning's "Childe Roland," Wagner's operas, and Mendelsohn: surely no-other Western has been so laden by the critics with analogies from high European culture.
(2) See Bignell, passim., Houston 145, and Cowie 8-10.
(3) Many reviewers and biographers equate the film's "psychology" with Brando's psyche; see Hart 233-34, Feinstein 62, Schickel 125-26, Bosworth 135. The most consistent critical response to One-Eyed Jacks has been to see it as a fantasy of revenge against the destructive father, Brando's personal family history providing the inspiration for a theme of generational struggle that also had wider contemporary social significance.
(4) Jim Henaghan acknowledges this quality in Brando's direction: "He moves his people with such grace in the elements of love, passion, cruelty, heartbreak and violence that I felt I was watching a ballet" (3).
(5) Neider edited Our Samoan Adventure by Fanny and Robert Louis Stevenson from a manuscript at the Stevenson House Museum in Monterey. Between 1952 and 1954 he worked on the edition in Monterey and Carmel and must have become familiar with Robert Louis Stevenson's writing about Monterey when he was researching The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones in the mid-1950s.
(6) To anyone who has watched the film since 1992 the scene is meaningful in other ways, almost over-determined, because it is so clearly the precursor to and inspiration for the equivalent scene in Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992), where sheriff Little Bill publicly beats up the outlaw English Bob in front of a crowd of townspeople. See Petch and Jolly for a detailed analysis of this scene in Unforgiven.
(7) See Pettit 131-51, 202-36. Surveying early cinematic stereotypes of the Mexican (1894-1947), Pettit finds that "greasers" were almost uniformly presented as greedy, unprincipled and lecherous (133), and the "greaser gangster" or cholo as cowardly and treacherous (143). Although a few examples of dignified or "manly" Mexicans may be found in films of the 1940s and 50s (Pettit cites "The Mexican" in The Ox-Bow Incident and Lou Trinidad in Death of a Gunfighter), the old stereotypes remained dominant. Pettit notes one exceptional film of the period, Viva Zapata! (1952), in which Marlon Brando gave a sympathetic, complex portrayal of the Mexican revolutionary (224-31). Pettit does not discuss One-Eyed Jacks.
(8) Although Hendry Jones, "the Kid" in Neider's novel, is definitely of Anglo-Celtic origin, he is also Mexican-identified: "He looked like a greaser sitting there, with his black tight trousers, black high-heeled boots, black sombrero tilted over his face, and the brown blanket covering his shoulders like a serape" (94).
(9) "Polarization between democratic and hierarchically organized society with respect to shame and contempt holds also in families ..." (Tomkins 141). Longworth's family is--as he reminds Maria in their final scene--hierarchical and his self-contempt concentrates, in the town's only visible officer of civic authority, what is wrong with Monterey.
Bignell, Jonathan. "The Method Western: The Left-Handed Gun and One-Eyed Jacks." The Book of Westerns. Ed. Ian Cameron and Douglas Pye. New York: Continuum, 1996. 99-110.
Bosworth, Patricia. Marion Brando. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001.
Brooks, Peter. Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.
Cover, Robert M. "Nomos and Narrative." Harvard Law Review 97 (1983): 4-68.
Cowie, Peter. "The Western." Review article of One-Eyed Jacks. Motion 2 (1961-2): 8-11.
Feinstein, Herbert. Review of One-Eyed Jacks. Film Quarterly 14 (1961): 59-62.
Hart, Henry. Review of One-Eyed Jacks. Films in Review 12 (1961): 233-235.
Henaghan, Jim. Review of One-Eyed Jacks. The Hollywood Reporter, 31 July 1961: 3.
Houston, Penelope. Review of One-Eyed Jacks. Sight and Sound 30 (1961): 144-145.
Llewellyn, Karl. N. "What Price Contract?--An Essay in Perspective." Yale Law Journal 40 (1931-32): 704-51.
Maine, Henry Sumner. Ancient Law. Its Connection with the Early History of Society and its Relation to Modern Ideas. 1861. New York: Dorset Press, 1986.
Manso, Peter. Brando: The Biography. New York: Hyperion, 1994.
Miller, J. Hillis. "The Critic as Host." Critical Inquiry 3 (1977): 439-447.
Neider, Charles. The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones. 1956. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1993.
--. Introduction. Our Samoan Adventure. By Fanny and Robert Louis Stevenson. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1956. 11-22.
One-Eyed Jacks. Dir. Marion Brando. Paramount, 1961.
Petch, Simon, and Roslyn Jolly. "Law and Politics in Unforgiven." Arizona Quarterly 59 (2004): 125-145.
Pettit, Arthur G. Images of the Mexican American in Fiction and Film. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1980.
Schickel, Richard. Brando: A Life in Our Times. London: Pavilion Books, 1991.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. "The Old Pacific Capital" (1880). Across the Plains. 1892. London: Chatto & Windus, 1925. 51-71.
Tomkins, Silvan S. Affect, Imagery, Consciousness. 3 vols. New York: Springer, 1963. Vol. II, The Negative Affects.
Unforgiven. Dir. Glint Eastwood. Warner Bros., 1991.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Author:||Petch, Simon; Jolly, Roslyn|
|Article Type:||Movie Review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2004|
|Previous Article:||The country of the mind in Kubrick's Fear and Desire.|
|Next Article:||A eulogy for Tyrell Musgrove: the disremembered child in Marc Forster's Monster's Ball.|