Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Expendables

Few weeks back, I embedded a link to The Expendables, the upcoming geezer action movie. If you can't get it from the trailer that this is another loving homage to The Seven Samurai, you aren't paying attention.

Probably the best American copy of Kurosawa's movie is
The Magnificent Seven, which is pretty much a scene-for-scene steal, transplanted to the U.S. west. The Dirty Dozen wasn't bad, and neither was The Wild Bunch. Everybody from Roger Corman to George Lucas has bowed down to the master with their own movies or TV scripts, and it goes to the old saying in the arts that if you are going to steal, steal from the best.

I'm looking forward to the Stallone picture. It looks like a hoot. Silly, but, hey -- I'm goin'.

So I put the link up and recently got an email that wondered if I noticed that Sly was using a single-action six-shooter in one of the fight scenes and wasn't that a clever and original touch?

Yep, I surely noticed. Clever, yes. Original? Nah.

Look at that scene on YouTube: it is an homage to
Seven, and to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, with a touch of The Wild Bunch, too. The good guys are facing off with bad guys and jawing back and forth about who gets to kill whom: Statham says, Take the two on the right; Stallone says, Why don't you take the two on the left and leave the rest? The others chime in: Hey, you ain't that fast any more. Aw, here we go ...

I can't imagine there would be any question in anybody's mind how this scene is going to end.

Silly, but I'm going to see it. I grew up watching these guys play onscreen. Some of them are as old as I am, and for a long time, I've been rooting for the old guys ...

But my point this time: Sly with a six-gun against guys with AK47s? Been done before. In fact, I did myself ...

Windowpane, my sixties novel, written in the late eighties and published seven years ago, page 80:

"Back in the Nam, there'd been a guy in his unit named Purvis, a PFC, who'd somehow bought himself a Colt .45 single action and a fast draw holster, a real cowboy rig. The gun was nickel-plated, with ivory grips, and you could see it for half a mile in the jungle. It would catch any light there was like a mirror. The dude would strap the rig on, tie it down to his leg like he was fucking Wyatt Earp going to a gunfight, then he'd stalk off, looking for Charlie. Long figured he was in a hurry to be a dead man and he'd get his wish pretty damned quick, but somehow Purvis kept coming back, and sometimes, he'd be grinning like a baboon.

Long's spotter, Earl the Pearl, the Duke of Darkness, had seen Purvis do his thing once, through a forty-power spotting scope at maybe two hundred yards.

Earl said, 'What it is, man, is these two VC comin' up Rat Dick trail, goin' to Mamma Blowjob's hooch, it's not even dark yet. One of them be carryin' a Chink K-44, the other got an AK-47, and they watchin' what they doin', real catfeet and ready to shoot. I getting' ready to honk the horn and give you a call to come down and take 'em when old Purvis, he step out on the trail behind 'em. I can't hear 'em, but Purvis, he must say somethin', 'cause Charlie turn around fast, one right one left, to circle their fields of fire. Purvis got his talisman in the holster, you dig, no rifle, no grenades, no nothin'. They get most of the way around, and Purvis, he whip that gun out and fans off five, bam-bam-bam-bam-bam, like he had full fuckin' auto. Charlie don't get off a round, they go down, dead meat. Purvis, he spins that Colt in his hands like Sammy Davis Junior, then he pop it back into the holster, and then he turn around and walk back into the fuckin' trees. He one crazy muthafuckah, man.'

But you couldn't tell by looking at him. Purvis had a big grin. He looked like he should be singing in a church choir, or drinking malts down at the drugstore with Betty Sue, or teaching Boy Scouts how to tie knots. That he wanted to play cowboy was bad enough, but that wasn't the half of it. What it was, Purvis thought that six-shooter he played with was magic. Called it his talisman, and said as long as he had it, Charlie couldn't touch him. Some guys carried aces stuck in their helmets, some guys drew bullseyes on their shirts, some guys chained a rabbit's foot through the trigger guards of their M-16, all of them thinking that might keep 'em alive. A lot of them died. But Purvis spent a big chunk of his tour scouring the woods for Charlie with that goddamned revolver on his hip, running the O.K. Corral over and over. Got quite a few VC, some regular NVA, and it was as damned stupid a thing as anybody could do. But he never stopped, even when he got short. And when his tour ended, he walked away, not a fucking scratch on him.

As far a Long knew, Purvis was still alive in the States somewhere, and he still had his magic gun."

Not much new under the sun ...


Anonymous said...

Just found a copy of Windowpane at Powell's in Portland a couple of months ago. It's one of my favorite books you've written so far.

As bad as I know The Expendables is going to be, I also can't wait to see it. Looks like it's going to be WAY too much fun to pass up.


J.D. Ray said...

Good scene, Steve. I saw that copy of Windowpane at Powell's a few months back myself and neglected to pick it up. I guess Aaron got it.

If I'm not mistaken, Stallone was involved in a six-shooter-versus-machine-guns scene himself, in Tango & Cash. Best line from the (bad) movie was Stallone and Kurt Russell racing along in a pickup truck, with Russell driving. Russell says something to the effect that they're going to need guns. Stallone reaches down under the seat, takes out (as I remember it) something like a Desert Eagle, which he keeps, and a 357 six shooter, which he tosses to Russell. Russell complains, "Hey, why is yours bigger than mine?"


Yeah, it's an obvious gag, but it still cracks me up years later. It's the simple things in life, you see...

James said...

Hey, who at our age doesn't like seeing old guys kick a little ass? That was one of the best things about the Liam Neeson film "Taken". Well, that and the first fight scene which involved a knife attack and a Puter Kepala. After that I knew I was IN, baby!

The Expedables said...

The thing about this movie is that it's suitable for all ages. Even old times like me who've seen these kind of movies in the 80's can indentify with this one