Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Lonely Are the Brave

Lonely Are the Brave is a 1962 western film with Kirk Douglas starring as a cowboy out of his time, a man who chafes at modern society. It's based on the Edward Abbey novel The Brave Cowboy. It also stars Gena Rowlands (still acting now at 85), Walter Matthau, Carroll O'Connor, William Schallert (who has Star Trek connections), George Kennedy, Karl Swenson, Dan Sheridan (well-known from tv appearances between 1957 and his death at the age of forty-six in 1963), and Bill Raisch as the one-armed man. Raisch went on to play the one-armed man in The Fugitive. I'm not one who's such a fan of Kirk Douglas that I'll watch anything if he's in it, but he's still going strong at 99 years of age and that counts for something. This is reportedly his favorite of his films.

The NYT says, "Remarkable for a low-budget western, “Lonely Are the Brave” poses uneasy questions about the idea, and value, of heroism." Time Out calls it "A striking modern Western" and closes with this: "Beautifully acted by a superb cast, it's a gripping, elegiac movie, imbued with a very real nostalgia for a vanished world."

DVD Talk concludes:
As high as a recommendation will go. Lonely are the Brave is a true winner. A deep and thoughtful take on the modern western, it's got nail-biting action alongside sharply drawn characters. Kirk Douglas has never been better ... and the tale of one man trying to carry on despite modernity's every effort to knock him off his horse has a lasting significance. ... A bonafide lost classic.

Roger Ebert calls it "Kirk Douglas' unrecognized masterpiece". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 90%.


  1. I've never heard of this movie, but I was shocked that Kirk Douglas was that old. From what pictures I've seen of him, he looks younger than his son.

    I'm not a western fan, but I wouldn't turn down seeing this movie. Thanks for the review.

    1. It's only a western in the sense that Kirk Douglas is a cowboy long after property and fences and lifestyles have made his way of living obsolete. He is a man whom time has passed by, a man who wants to use a horse as a primary means of transportation in the age of the automobile and the highway. A sad story of a man who couldn't adapt to the changing times. I'm happy it's available online right now. I'd never have seen it otherwise.