This and “Duck Soup” were my “Pennies from Heaven”-- films I have been looking forward to most in regards to this podcast, yet also dreading for fear of how newer viewers might react to them.
Here are a few afterthoughts:
1. The final fight: I don’t think Munny turned into a super-cowboy at the end of the film. It was not a smooth display of skill as you might have seen from “the man with no name” in the Leone westerns, but an instance of dumb luck (“deserve’s got nothing to do with it”) and a callback to what Bill had said earlier and what "bleary" mentioned above: “… being a good shot, being quick with a pistol, that don't do no harm, but it don't mean much next to being cool-headed…It ain't so easy to shoot a man anyhow, especially if the son-of-a-bitch is shootin' back at you”.
And this isn’t a triumphal, John Wick-style act of revenge. This was a ruthless killer who had been fighting tooth and nail through the whole film to be the reformed man he claimed that he was, finally embracing the killer he had always been. There’s no triumph in his turn, as you would find in Eastwood’s older films. There is only mud, liquor and brutality. He is a “killer of women and children” and he says as much as he un-heroically rides off into the darkness.
2. Sex and Munny (pun intended): I’m not one to easily defend Eastwood when it comes to sexual politics- stories of his past relationships have tended to taint my view of his body of work. But I’ve never read anything negative or clichéd or “boys will be boys” in his approach to sexuality in regards to William Munny. This is a movie full of detail, and I think the age of his wife was meant to reflect the 1880s. This was a script that barely changed from director to director (if at all), and I imagine that David Webb Peoples already had this in the script as a period-accurate detail. And as for his dialogue with Delilah, I’m not sure it’s 100% necessary for the story, but I don’t think it hurts it either. I think it’s just another bitter vignette about the frailty and sadness of this time and place, where this little bit of conversational misunderstanding leaves poor Delilah a little sadder. And in the end, the misunderstanding never resolves.