Film Report: Appaloosa starring Ed Harris and Viggo, the actor, not Vigo, the Scourge of Carpathia (2008)

Book coverThis film is based on the book by Robert B. Parker which I read in 2005. Since I was to read the fourth book in the series, I ordered the DVD so I could watch it after I finished the last book.

And you know what? The film is better than the book.

The latter 2/3 of Parker’s books were heavily influenced by his years in Hollywood in the 1980s, so they translate very well to the screen. But Parker didn’t write the screenplay–Ed Harris, who plays Cole, did along with a co-writer. As such, he takes the ideal Parkerian hero, the fast draw dead shot who loves a fallen woman character and diminishes him compared to Hitch, the sidekick and narrator. Harris emphasizes that Cole is not book-learned like Hitch when he (Cole) struggles with words. The screenplay also contrasts Cole with Bragg, the bad guy, as being undereducated. He’s not so much an ideal man as a fast man who is simple.

Maybe that’s the way that Parker intended it. Maybe too much interior thinking on Hitch’s park shaped the narrative wrong for it to carry off. Maybe I too much read Parker’s biography into all of his books. But it’s a good enough Western film, and I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the recent Hitch and Cole books.

DVDs mentioned in this review:

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