I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Awesome Adaptations (24) - Cat Ballou

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An Awesome Adaptation of an American Story
Title: Cat Ballou
Adapted from: The Ballad of Cat Ballou by Roy Chanslor

When I think of a genre that is uniquely American, I think of the Western, and Cat Ballou is my favorite Western film.  It's a film that is very much altered from the source material in terms of tone.  While the book is a gritty tale that is very recognizably a straight Western, the film can only be defined as a Western comedy musical.  The musical part comes in because there are two Greek chorus-type balladeers (one of whom is Nat King Cole!) who narrate the story of Cat as she transforms from mild-mannered school marm to vengeful outlaw.   I have to say I think it's a SHAME the soundtrack has no official release, because I love the music in this film!

The aspects of this film that I feel embody the American spirit come down to the themes of independence, rebellion, and justice. Cat Ballou is fighting back the big business interests of the Wolf City Development who hired a gunman to kill her father because he wouldn't sell his land to make way for a railroad.  She's fighting against some pretty important people, and the darker elements of the plot is kept intact, even with the lighter comedy relief of her ragtag band of outlaws, and her tenuous romance with Clay.  In the middle of the film, there's a beautifully touching song that Nat King Cole sings just after Cat loses her father with the lyrics "There are tear drops in her heart, but they can't make her cry."  The whole scene is pure artistry - from the framing, the lighting and the perfect lyrics.  The film really has it all - adventure, hijinks, emotion, romance, gunfights, and comedy.  And don't even get me started on the scene where Kid Shellen's transforms from drunk, ineffectual gunman to super slick deadly killer - it's a role that's brilliantly played by Lee Marvin and that won him an Oscar, and it's just one of the very memorable scenes from this film.

There is so much in this film to appeal - it's a great story, with great characters and acting.  It's charming and touching and absolutely entertaining.  And it's a great to watch an underdog conquer!

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  1. I've never seen this film! :) I need to check it out!

    1. Definitely!! I love this movie so much, seriously! :)