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Oscar Watch: Appaloosa

A Viggo-Works.com has turned some production photos of the new Ed Harris-directed movie Appaloosa. Harris was last seen directing the biopic Pollock, about the life of the troubled abstract painter for which Marcia Gay Harden won the Oscar in an upset. Appaloosa is taken from a novel and is described this way: Two friends hired to police a small town that is suffering under the rule of a rancher find their job complicated by the arrival of a young widow.

Here is more on the book from Publisher’s Weekly:

This is only Parker’s second western, after the Wyatt Earp story Gunman’s Rhapsody (or third if you count the Spenser PI quasi-western Potshot), but he takes command of the genre, telling an indelible story of two Old West lawmen. The chief one is Virgil Cole, new marshal of the mining/ranching town of Appaloosa (probably in Colorado); his deputy is Everett Hitch, and it’s Hitch who tells the tale, playing Watson to Cole’s Holmes. The novel’s outline is classic western: Cole and Hitch take on the corrupt rancher, Randall Bragg, who ordered the killing of the previous marshal and his deputy. Bragg is arrested, tried and sentenced to be hung, but hired guns bust him out, leading to a long chase through Indian territory, a traditional high noon (albeit at 2:41 p.m.) shootout between Cole’s men and Bragg’s, a further escape and, at book’s end, a final showdown. Along the way, Cole falls for a piano-playing beauty with a malevolent heart, whose manipulations lead to that final, fatal confrontation. With such familiar elements, Parker breaks no new ground. What he does, and to a magnificent degree, is to invest classic tropes with vigor, through depth of character revealed by a glance, a gesture or even silence. A consummate pro, Parker never tells, always shows, through writing that’s bone clean and through a superb transferal of the moral issues of his acclaimed mysteries (e.g., the importance of honor) to the western. This is one of Parker’s finest.

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