Paint Your Wagon is a movie that’s practically begging for you to hate it. First off, it’s a musical. Secondly, all the songs are sung by people who couldn’t carry a tune to save their life. The worst thing about the film though is it’s length. The flick runs over two and a half hours, most of which is spent on… you guessed it… singing by non-singers.
Lee Marvin stars as a prospector who finds gold while burying a dead guy (Clint Eastwood). Lee makes a deal with the deceased’s twin brother (also Clint) to get a piece of the action, just as long as they split everything down the middle. One day Lee drunkenly buys a Mormon wife (Jean Seberg) at an auction. Since Clint and Lee split EVERYTHING 50/50, they have to share her. When Marvin goes out of town to shanghai some French prostitutes for the horny miners, Clint ends up falling in love with her too. This predictably leads more shenanigans and (shudder) more singing.
The teaming of Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin should’ve been dynamite. Unfortunately someone got the stupid idea to put them in a dumb, overlong musical. Clint Eastwood is a lot of things. A singer is not one of them. I liked him when he played The Man With No Name in The Dollars Trilogy but I wished he was The Man With No Voice so I didn’t have to listen to his cringe-inducing crooning. The same goes for Lee Marvin. He doesn’t necessary “sing” as much as he just kinda talks his lyrics. At least Marvin is good at playing the rascally old codger. What little life there is in the movie is courtesy of him. It isn’t much though.
The music hurts your ears and your eyes don’t get off easy either. The whole movie looks muddy and grimy with a color scheme consisting of nothing more than a bunch of dull browns and drab blacks. The finale where the mining town crumbles to the ground is OK but sadly that’s the closest thing you’re going to get to an “action” scene in the movie.
In short, Paint Your Wagon will make you want to Paint Your Wall with your brains.