Lonely Are the Brave (1962) 720p

Movie Poster
Lonely Are the Brave (1962) bluray - Movie Poster
Drama | Western
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
English 2.0  
Run Time:
107 min
IMDB Rating:
7.6 / 10 
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Directors: David Miller [Director] ,

Movie Description:
In order to free his best friend Paul Bondi from jail, cowboy Jack Burns gets himself imprisoned only to find out that Bondi does not want to escape. Thus Burns breaks out on his own and is afterwards being chased in the mountains by sheriff Johnson with a helicopter and jeeps.


  • Lonely Are the Brave (1962) bluray - Movie Scene 1
  • Lonely Are the Brave (1962) bluray - Movie Scene 2
  • Lonely Are the Brave (1962) bluray - Movie Scene 1

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Well made film built upon dubious premise

There are many things weighing in favor of this film: David Miller's direction is assured, honest, competent, and perceptive; Douglas, Matthau and Rowlands all post wonderful performances; photography is superlative; action sequences are of the highest order; and the script, especially the dialogue, by Donald Trumbo, is very good.

Unfortunately, it is built upon a questionable premise. Even the most idealistic of souls has to know that you do not commit crimes to be taken into jail to release your brother, but first you ask him if he is willing to go along with that project. Fortunately, Douglas' brother is much wiser than he and refuses to break out of jail.

Freedom-loving, idealistic Douglas has some strange quirks, not to mention a questionable military service record that includes a Purple Heart, and good civilian deeds besides beating up officers of the law. For somebody who apparently loves freedom so dearly, it is really strange that he has no idea how prison limits your freedom, especially because he had been in detention during his military service.

The film gathers momentum when Douglas is on the run and police after him, but you know that things are not going to go well. Best single aspect in the whole movie: Douglas' love for his mare, Whisky. Plaudits for the trainers who managed to get the animal to perform so convincingly in such a difficult environment, both on the mountains and in the streets.

I liked Matthau's understated performance and the way his character understands Douglas' motivations, but the law, even in 1962, did not allow cop offenders to get off so easy. Well deserved 7/10, a more credible premise would easily raise it to 9/10.

Sad, tense, and stark

Since it's a well-known tidbit of film history that Lonely Are the Brave is Kirk Douglas's favorite of his movies, I'll try not to be too critical. There are some nice elements to the film, and I'll focus on those, even though this is a movie I'll probably never want to watch again.

Kirk Douglas stars as a traditional cowboy: a wandering cowhand with no permanent address, a closer relationship to his horse than with most people, and a wealth of knowledge about his natural surroundings. He stops by normal civilization to check up on his old friends, Gena Rowlands and Michael Kane, and finds out that Michael has landed in a two-year jail stint. Determined to rescue his pal, Kirk gets himself arrested, thrown in jail, and then hopes to escape with Michael. Michael prefers to serve out the remainder of his sentence and return safely to his family, leaving Kirk to "brave" the escape alone.

The early scenes between Kirk and an extremely young and pretty Gena Rowlands are my favorite scenes. They have a fantastic chemistry together, and I found myself wishing the entire film consisted only of the scorching pair. Despite their differences, they truly understand each other, and there's a love that runs deeper than any of their written lines. While the audience wonders about the characters' history, when it's finally revealed, their performances are that much more layered. It makes you wonder why they weren't cast in Hud!

In the second half of the film, when Kirk and his horse are on the run from Sheriff Walter Matthau, whose addiction to gum and deadpan lines gets old fast, the film has a completely different feel to it. It's incredibly tense, and several times, I pressed pause and took a walk around the house just to shake off my worries. Animal lovers will be terribly affected by the movie, and non-animal lovers will still be on the edge of their seats, hoping that Kirk will be able to escape. The stunts are incredible, and in traditional old-Hollywood style, the long takes allow audiences to see Kirk's face as he wrangles his horse!

You know I never spoil any plot points in my reviews, but just ask yourself what you imagine when you hear the title Lonely Are the Brave. If you imagine a cutesy classic, you might want to put this back on the shelf and rent My Dear Secretary instead. If you imagine a sad, tense, stark drama, you're probably ready for it.

Kiddy warning: Obviously, you have control over your own children. However, due to upsetting situations involving an animal, I wouldn't let my kids watch this movie.

"A westerner likes open country. That means he's got to hate fences"

Released in 1962 and directed by David Miller from a novel by Edward Abbey, "Lonely are the Brave" is a Western taking place in modern times (the early 60s, that is) starring Kirk Douglas as Jack Burns, an independent New Mexican cowhand who's a likable loner. He lands himself in jail in order to help his old friend, Paul (Michael Kane), who is doomed for the penitentiary for a couple of years; but Paul doesn't want to escape because it would add several years to his sentence if caught. So Burns breaks out on his own and is chased by Sheriff Johnson (Walter Matthau) and others (George Kennedy) with the aid of a military helicopter, etc. Will he get away? Gena Rowlands is on hand as Paul's wife.

This modern Western cogently conveys how civilization with its corresponding government and never-ending laws naturally squelches personal independence and freedom. The bigger the populace means the bigger the governing regulations, and the less the liberty. One starts to suffocate in a world of borders, fences and laws. These are human-made inventions that don't even exist. Fly over the USA and you'll see no state or county borders or city limits. They're all human-made inventions that don't exist, except in a legal sense. Burns hearkens back to an earlier era where one didn't even need an ID. He doesn't fit into the mold of the modern world. All he has is his mare, Whiskey, the clothes on his back and his basic necessities. They're all a real cowboy needs, but the cowboy was a vanishing breed circa 1961.

Director Miller wisely accentuates Gena's curvy beauty as Paul's wife, Jerri. The nature of her relationship with Burns is initially a mystery, but all is revealed before the final act and it's well done. Whether someone is married or not, it doesn't mean s/he can't love someone else who's single or married. But marriage itself is a border that cannot be lawfully crossed except by the person's spouse. The film acknowledges this and so do Burns and Jerri. They're people with feelings, but they're also wise and hence don't allow their passions to compel them to trespass marital fences.

All these items amongst others (like the quality score) make "Lonely are the Brave" a minor near-masterpiece. Unfortunately, it's flawed by some tedious stretches, like the overlong jail sequence, and unconvincing or dumb elements; for instance, the idea that Burns wouldn't know enough to make sure there weren't any cars before crossing a highway on horseback (Seriously?). It's also marred by B&W photography, which would've really come alive if shot in color. The basic plot and theme were done later by the superior "First Blood" (1982) and "The Electric Horseman" (1979) respectively.

The film runs 107 minutes and was shot in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, area.

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