Sunday, February 18, 2018

Madron (1970)



An obscure western, an American-Israeli production, shot in Israel, the Negev substituting the American Deep South. Madron was one of the first movies produced by GBC Edric Isracine and the first Israeli movie set in a non-Israeli location. It was co-produced by Chicago based Zev Braun productions  (*1). The movie was released a few month after - and almost completely eclipsed by - Don Siegel's Two Mules for Sister Sarah, which told a similar story about a mercenary and a nun and their journey through the desert.

Leslie Caron is Sister Mary, a French-Canadian nurse and the only survivor of an Apache attack on a wagon train (*2). She is picked up, in the middle of the nowhere, by a drifter called Madron, a primitive man who has survived so far by following his instincts. He promises to bring her to safety, but the two must fight off Mexican bandits and marauding Indians. The journey is long and grueling, and poor old Madron also has to deal with a smooth-talking woman who starts discussing all his decisions ...

Madron was made in the slipstream of Ralph Nelson's infamous Soldier Blue; it has the same narrative structure and some of that movie's brutalities, but few of its concerns. Sister Mary repeatedly states that all people have a soul and are therefore God's children, but the Indians are presented as cruel and superstitious. The Mexicans come off a little better: one of them is a good catholic who is first saved by Sister Mary (when Madron wants to execute and bury him) and later sacrifices himself to save her from being raped and killed by the Apaches. 

Apparently the movie was made for television but released theatrically when it was judged too violent for the small screen. Few people bought a ticket, but the song Till Love touches your Life was nominated by Academy in the category Best Original song. It refers to the tender feelings the two travelers develop for each other, and that may, or may not have resulted in you-know-what (the script is oddly uncommunicative at this point). Boone and Caron play their roles with brio and are in fact far better than this mildly entertaining, but otherwise modest production deserves.

Notes:

* (1) Zev Braun was Jewish and so was famed Italian composer Riz Ortolani. Richard Boone assisted the Israeli film industry in the 1960s and the 1970s and received a special award from Yitzhak Rabin in 1979 for his 'contribution to Israeli cinema' 
* (2) Caron was born in France. For this reason it is suggested in the movie that she is French-Canadian, but her accent does not sound Canadian at all

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1970 - Dir: Jerry Hopper - Cast: Richard Boone, Leslie Caron, Gabi Amrani, Paul L. Smith, Aharon Ipalé, Mosko Alkalai, Haim Banai - Music: Riz Ortolani - Song Till love touches your life, composed by Riz Ortolani, lyrics by Arthur Hamilton


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