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VIDEO ESSAY: BEAVER'S LODGE: CAIN'S CUTTHROATS (1971)

Video
by Jim Beaver
October 10, 2012 8:29 AM
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This is the fifth installment of BEAVER'S LODGE, a series of video essays narrated by actor Jim Beaver which will offer critical takes on some of Beaver's favorite films. Jim Beaver is an actor, playwright, and film historian. Best known as Ellsworth on HBO’s Emmy-award winning series DEADWOOD and as Bobby Singer on SUPERNATURAL, he has also starred in such series as HARPER'S ISLAND, JOHN FROM CINCINNATI, and THUNDER ALLEY and appeared in nearly forty motion pictures. You can follow Jim on Twitter.

A great deal of effort was apparently put into making this the worst movie ever made. They didn't pull it off, but the effort certainly shows.

It's a Western with rockabilly songs. It's a Civil War-era movie that was originally released with footage of motorcycle gangs edited into it. It's a movie where single bullet holes look like exploding steak tartare. It's a movie with a black character played by the whitest-looking white woman you can imagine. It's a movie with 20 people in the cast, 18 of whom are the worst collective gathering of actors in the history of motion pictures.

Fortunately, one of the other two actors is John Carradine, who could be one of the best actors alive or one of the worst hams ever to set foot on a stage, depending on the material. Carradine, who should have had an Oscar for THE GRAPES OF WRATH and was reportedly a great Hamlet in his day, is in semi-hammy mode here, but it's more or less right for the character, a preacher/bounty hunter. It's one of the larger roles of his late career, when he clearly took anything that came along. If there's anything worth watching in this collection of uncut banjo picks, it's he.

Scott Brady, who is the only other bearable (or recognizable) actor in the cast, is Justice Cain, a former Confederate officer who is worshiped by his troops, but that doesn't keep them from raping his wife and killing her and his son when he refuses to join them in restarting the war, long after the rebel surrender. So Cain sets out to avenge himself on the men he once led, joining forces with Preacher Simms (Carradine), who spouts Bible verses and keeps a collection of human heads in a barrel of brine.

The movie is nowhere near as good as that description sounds. In fact, it's nowhere near as good as choking to death on a drill bit.

But at least there's a chance at one point to see John Carradine in drag. And Carradine, brilliant or hammy, always brightens up a movie.

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