Learning Day: The Missouri Breaks 🌭

Mornin an howdy I am excited to join you again in this year of 2022. LaRene and Trayton got me a gift subscription to my hot dog e-zine again this year (I know it’s not really a gift subscription, it’s hooked up to my email but I act surprised when they tell me and now we all get it that its not actual hot dogs we’re paying for here, no its something even more precious than that: community and connection with people born between 1977 and 1983 without having a facebook)

Anyway now that I been reading this blog for a while I’m buildin what some might call a ’‘sense‘’ for the type of “generated content” that they post, and well I really like the ones where a hot dog writer will take a beloved piece of pop culture what we all know real well and have a deep fondness for it and write about a part of it or a angle that maybe we didn’t think of ourselves even though we seen it a hunnerd times, so I thought I might try one of those ones.

Yep thats right I bet this one doesn’t need more explanation from me, your probably all allready real excited and callin over your family members and coworkers to look at your phone because here is a article about probly everyones favorite childhood nostalgia film Director: Arthur Penn

I know yr already playing through your favorite Arthur Penn moments in your head and you don’t need me to lay them out. So this next part is more like buddies sayin “member when” and thinkin about favorite memories, and not as much as me thinkin I’m showin you anything new but hell, now that I say that if maybe you somehow missed one of these classic cinema movies, then here’s a lil poke to get straight on that.

Mr. Penn showed us his chops early on in the screen in a big way by showin not tellin how in Bonnie and Clyde (1967) it was like Faye Dunaway was in jail even though it was her bedroom, because of so much caged feelins of onwee? omway? Inyuix? One a those is right 

(Editor: “Ennui.”)

And then like I already said Little Big Man (1970) and maybe the crushes got even bigger cause here Dunaway was a preacher’s wife but she was still horny maybe?  And Dustin Hoffman is supposed to be like 14 here i think, so that was confusin to our heads but not so much to our young hearts (and the genitals)

Arthur Penn also taught us a new way of men can have a sexuality in Night Moves (1975). Member this was when all the James Bonds and High Plains Drifters was runnin round like consent hadnt been invented yet. Like here is Gene Hackman doin some post coitous fondue with his wife which: even though they’re goin through some arguments they still enjoy each-others’ bodies, like how he keeps his foot tenderly up on her female breast which she seems to like it. Not everybody does Larene and I tried it, the foot part not the fondue part that seems dangerous, but she said the way my toenails kinda flake off and and leave like a nail-powder everywhere wasnt her thing.

I can almost hear the Trailer Man’s voice now:





Yep thats right through the magic of highly skilled cinema direction and also camera tricks Mary Steenbrugen played TWO different women in the SAME movie. And she gets kidnapped by Cornelius the Ape and maybe Werner Herzog? And she gets her finger cut off and she wakes up next to a sex doll of herself and guess what: its actually a triple roll theres a whole other Mary Steemvurgen.

So that was a nice stroll through some of our favorite Arther Penn memories we share together. But of course we know the real reason we’re all here is to talk about his magnet opas, what you hot dogsmen would surely call the Bloodsport of Xanadu of Robocop Conan:

Although maybe with a soup’s on of live-action Wicked City.

There are some images what just carry a big deal of power like pale blue dot or a camper with a beautiful sunset airbrushed on it, and here we have something similar where just a simple pretty-good drawing of Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando on ol timey paper – well if your like me you can just feel the sense of manful defiance and struggle for crops or violence and probably some love in there too.

You probly know this one is what they call a “revisionist” western which near as I can tell means the cowboys can get there feelings hurt. You can tell if yr watching a revisionist one because instead of just normal orchestra or guitar music sometimes it will be pretty funky! Like what they might play in a JC Penney in 1983.

Speakin of music it’s John Williams did the songs for this movie an you can tell, like the first shot its kinda like the Jaws song except instead of a shark coming its cowboys and it takes like 10 minutes.

Now the people in the movie don’t come out and say it at first and it was confusing to me, so I’ll just tell you: just because its called The Missouri Breaks don’t mean it don’t take place in Montana. For a while we just watch and get to know the setting and people and probably what its gonna be about, which is Frontier Justice: At What Cost? 

“And truly isn’t it as if we are all (dramatical pause)…The Missouri Breaks?”

Our important people to know about so far are: Jack Nicholson is… Tom Logan

He’s a horse stealer with his friends but one of em gets killed and Tom seems pretty sad and worried about it, and they start up a farm as a cover for better horse stealing but Tom seems to really take to farming! And you can tell he’s pretty proud of his cabbages he keeps showing to everybody that comes by, it reminds me of how Trayton likes to show me he can make a Minecraft farm except the movies doesn’t have a lava pit where you put the rabbits.

Kathleen Lloyd is Jane Braxton…

You probly recognize her, she actually played two different people in Magnum (I personally prefer the witt and pathos she brought to the waitress from Cleveland trying to do right by her dad’s ashes over when she was the Hawaii lawyer) and then she was in the one where the devil car tries to kill Thanoses dad. In this one she’s the rich guys daughter but she likes Tom and because its a revisionist movie she’s allowed to have a sexuality.

(Brockway said I could do three gifs and I thought it would be good to use one for Equality)

Randy Quaid is Little Tod…

He’s kinda dumb and funny but will he meet a tragic end? (for shadow)

Harry Dean Stanton is Calvin…

You probably know him from when he stood in the spaceship rain but in this one he’s kinda like The Dad of the Cowboys. And another example of how its revisionist is Calvin has a forever trauma from when he was a little boy and somebody shot his dog for getting in the butter and it makes us think: Maybe cowboys ain’t traumatized the exact same as Jewish filmmakers from Philadelphia, but perhaps there’s more difference within groups than between?

Anyway thats pretty much the important ones at first and its all enjoyable enough: we see a variety of western situations like a hangin’, and they visit a old west sex-worker-house and ask where are the chubby ones? And a train robbery where they mess it up and the money falls everywhere and you can tell that Penn really thought the wooden tressil bridge made neat shapes on camera cuz he filmed it ALOT and so far its kinda just a nice little movie! And then it all kinda changes when the rich bad guy is havin a funeral for a friend and a unexpected guest arrives:

Marlin Brando. This is after Godfather, mind.

Now: Arthur Penn had worked with Brando before and maybe knew something about his intendencies: when they made The Chase together Brando found out the producer had some trauma cuz someone he cared about died by motorcycle crashin’ so he did a funny prank by coming to work on HIS motorcycle! Hawhaw! But that was like 10 years before this movie and it seems like Brando just got even crazier in that time because in this movie he sort of seems like he is not even paying attention to anything or maybe even knows there is a director.  My personal thinking is that Brando was maybe actually more like a not funny Robin Williams, but because our first introduction of him was a real serious, horny, handsome-boy, we all got confused. He decided he’d spend the rest of his life correctin our erroronous first impression.

So Brando’s name is Robert E. Lee Clayton and he starts off by havin a Irish accent, like most Confederacy Veterans I believe, (dont worry he doesnt keep it for the whole movie). 

And the rich people are saying nice things about their deceased acquaintance thats lying there in ice, and Brando comes in and is sorta like you are all cowards and fuck your dead friend. We learn the rich guy hired him to kill the rustlers but i guess its like a life imitates art cuz Clayton doesnt seem to wanna listen to his boss, anymore than Brando wanted to listen to Penn. Like: yes he kills the rustlers but not in a efficient way, no, more like he puts on a priest collar and one a those asian hats what are racist now, and stops doing a Irish accent, and just kinda messes with Cousin Eddy for like a whole camping trip together before he finally drowns him and his horse in the river.  

Sissyneck Movie Sadness Fact: Jug the Horse sadly did drown for real in this part and the Humane people came to do a investigation, and the producer told em Jug died because he hit his hoof on a car and then had a heart attack and then died of shock, which they didnt believe him anymore than I do and thats why The Missouri Breaks is rated “U” for unacceptable by the American Humane Association. Well that and more horses got hurt but I don’t know there names.

Also they said Brando did more funny pranks during the river filming parts like taking bites of live frogs.

But more gladly here is where we start to collect in earnest our “Good Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids From The Missouri Breaks” which we all remember from our childhood. Whom among us didnt dress up as at least one of these memorable outfits?:

Busted Hat Lil Tod (pre-drownin):

Ol West Gramma Bonnet Sniper Clayton:

Kicky Felt Hat Cabbage-Blastin’ Clayton:

Dishtowel Head Sharecroppin’ Tom Logan:

And a course Non-Irish Priest Bug In Your Mouth Camping Prank Clayton:

But then to return to the plot-wise: 

Clayton keeps killin’ the other rustlers in creative ways like…

Farmers Wife In Flagrant Delincto Snipin’:

Reverse Blood Meridian Outhouse Snipin’: 

And Make A Zipline and Send A Lantern Down On It and Shoot It When Its Over The Cabin and Harry Dean Stanton Runs Out on Fire and Then Western Chinese Star Face Impalin’:

Which apparently Brando invented this weapon himself, he said he was a good knife thrower and he thought why didn’t someone already invent this one?

And meanwhile, all the time his buddies are dyin Jack Nicholson is courtin and such 

but then he finds out and starts to come after Clayton. And here is where we get a Arthur Penn personal special touch, because where a normal movie might do a scene that raises the suspense or anticipations of the reckoning what is to come, instead we get about 10 minutes of Brando just goofin and talkin to his animals. We learn that his mule she is a treacherous harlot and so she gets hit (with a carrot):

But he loves his horse very much and kisses her on the lips and Lady and the Tramps with her (with a carrot):

He does a English accent for this part.

And then Marlon Brando goes to sleep and when he wakes up Jack Nicholson already cut his throat, and it kinda looks like Marlon and Jack arent even in the same room when they film this part and that kinda makes sense because it sounds like Brando left filming early and this was before the days when they could photobooth a smile on him if he wouldnt smile for the camera.

And then thats pretty much it, Jack Nicholson goes to the rich guy and its like Roadhouse kinda where we learn that its more powerful to render impotence pon the rich bad guy than to kill him, but then he pops back up with a gun so it is better to kill him after all.

And Tom and Jane are like we love each other, but we’ll probably have to check back in like 6 months to find out if we can make a relationship work so they get in their respective wagons and go their respective ways respectively.


So I know there wasn’t nothing you didnt already know about here. Arthur Penn and his films are just kinda the culture water we’re all swimmin in, but I hope even though it was thru the internet this was maybe like good friends leaning on a pasture gate, just talking and sharing thoughts about just a good movie we both like it and seen it a million times but that dont mean its not fun to spend a little time rememberin it and saying the funny parts to each other and just looking out over the fields and no eye contact at all but just saying what we remember from the movie and laughing and theres a feeling so strong but never saying it: this is what friendly love feels like. 

Alright. But it is getting time for supper and probly time to get in the truck and head home, but if we allow it: the Arthur Penn companionship warmth in our hearts might just sit there in the passenger seat next to us the whole way home in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

4 replies on “Learning Day: The Missouri Breaks 🌭”

Hell yeah, the American New Wave! That’s what all the kids are into, right? I can’t wait for the scathing take-down of William Friedkin’s “Sorceror”

This was awesome. They showed us Little Man Tate in Grade Nine, so I can really mark where and how Penn changed me.

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