SYDNEY POLLACK’S JEREMIAH JOHNSON — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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Overwhelming amounts of machismo. 1972 Sydney Pollack POWER — directing with tough, elegant grace. John Milius POWER — he pisses manliness and this film is further proof of this fact. Duke Callaghan POWER — one shot after another of staggering beauty. Jeremiah Johnson is a thoroughly absorbing relic from another time, and a perfect movie for a chilly winter’s night. Robert Redford in his GOLDEN GOD years. No CGI. No lame-ass blue-screens. No studio sets. Let’s get out there in the mountains and film an epic. A true epic. Every movie NEEDS an overture. This one has one. And it’s glorious. Based in part on the life of mountain man John “Liver-Eating” Johnson, with Redford in the leading role, and the excellent Will Geer as “Bear Claw” and shot on location in Utah, the film has that extra special feeling of something that was crafted in the outdoors and without the aid of easy studio assistance. Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood had been considered for the lead role at various points, and filmmaker Sam Peckinpah had been attached to direct before Pollack ended up getting the job. Shot on a reported $3.1 million budget, the film screened at the Cannes Film Festival, and would then become a big box office hit, grossing $45 million, and garnering tremendous critical praise. The Blu-ray release is extremely spiffy, cleaned up for sure, but still retaining that gritty, old-school-film-texture that seems to be slipping away into the cold of the night…

 

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