Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Proud and Damned (1972)

An enervated south-of-the-border Western in the vein of The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Professionals (1966)—but lacking the sophisticated execution of those great films—The Proud and Damned stars leather-faced tough guy Chuck Connors as the leader of a roving gang comprising ex-Confederate soldiers. Looking for a new start after the end of the Civil War, the gunslingers wander into Colombia, where they get jobs as hired muscle for a dictator. Sent to intimidate the impoverished citizens of a region that’s fomenting rebellion against the dictator, the American mercenaries predictably switch allegiances to the oppressed locals. Meanwhile, one of the Americans falls in love with a pretty senorita despite a language barrier. Excepting perhaps a major tragedy that occurs two-thirds of the way through the picture, not a single thing in The Proud and Damned has the power to surprise. The actions, character, dialogue, and situations are all so painfully familiar that it’s a struggle to stay awake while watching the picture, especially since the performances are as listless as the material. (It says everything you need to know that the only marquee-name actor in the picture besides Connors is Cesar Romero, best known for playing the Joker on the ’60s Batman series.) Writer-producer-director Ferde Grofé Jr. strings together clichés with a stunning lack of imagination, and he films everything in the flat style of a bad ’70s TV show. Furthermore, he evinces zero ability to generate legitimate dramatic tension. As such, actors are stuck in boring compositions, batting vanilla dialogue back and forth without any semblance of genuine human conflict. In other words, even though it might be unfair to describe The Proud and Damned as awful, since everything that happens more or less makes sense, it’s absolutely fair to describe The Proud and the Damned as vapid. Literally nothing in this movie hasn’t been done better elsewhere.

The Proud and Damned: LAME

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