The Outrage (1964) starring Paul Newman, Laurence Harvey, Claire Bloom, Edward G. Robinson, William Shatner, Howard Da Silva directed by Martin Ritt Movie Review

The Outrage (1964)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Claire Bloom and Paul Newman in The Outrage (1964)

Rehash a Rashomon

The first time I watched "The Outrage" or at least caught a good portion of it I was young and at that point had not heard of "Rashomon". It is because of cloudy fond memories I revisited the "Outrage" now with the knowledge of "Rashomon" which in many ways is probably the best thing, watch it once and then watch it again once you have watched "Rashomon" so you can compare it to the original. Yes for those who don't know "The Outrage" is Hollywood remaking "Rashomon" as a western and for the most it works although some changes most certainly don't. And whilst I say "The Outrage" works that doesn't mean it is as good as "Rashomon".

A disillusioned Preacher (William Shatner - Miss Congeniality 2) shows up at a railroad station looking to leave town and the memories behind. He is not alone as a Com man (Edward G. Robinson) is there and a Prospector (Howard Da Silva) shows up who the day before had been a witness alongside the Preacher in the case of Mexican bandit Carrasco (Paul Newman - Hud) who was found guilty of raping a woman and murdering her husband. But as the Preacher and the Prospector recount what they heard and what they know it becomes evident that there are various versions of what happened and no one can say for sure what really did happen.

William Shatner as Preacher in The Outrage (1964)

So what we have is "Rashomon" but thanks to Hollywood as a Western, not a bad idea to make the story more appealing to a western crowd. And what you see in "The Outrage" pretty much follows what was delivered in "Rashomon" with a few character changes which are understandable. As such we get the various versions of what happened to the husband and wife in the woods when they met Carrasco. We get Carrasco's version, the raped wife's version, an Indian Shamen's version who heard what the husband saw before he died and a fourth version. And each of these versions bring into doubt exactly what happened as the Con Man listen to each often mocking what he hears.

The trouble is that whilst the first 3 version we hear are done in a believable dramatic tone when we get the fourth version the tone changes and it is the change which spoils "The Outrage". Without giving too much away the fourth version of events has a comedic feel to it with an element of slapstick and error and it feels so very wrong. It spoils everything which had been done before and interrupts the look at the truth and how subjective the truth is.

The irony is that this is for me the only real problem with "The Outrage" but this shift in tone is a huge problem. I say irony because it brings me to Paul Newman who is made up to be Mexican bandit Carrasco and this is an almost unrecognizable Paul Newman, not the handsome star but depending on what version we see either a rogue or a dangerous man. You have to give Newman so much credit because it is such a complete performance that so many of his usual touches are gone making it so different.

You also have to praise the rest of what is quite an impressive cast, a pre-Star Trek William Shatner is not bad as the disillusioned Preacher and Edward G. Robinson is confident and almost cocky as the Con Man. Whilst he doesn't have a lot to do other than be tied up Laurence Harvey cuts an impressive figure as the husband although not as impressive as Claire Bloom as the wife. In fact with the wife being such a varied character from one version to the next Bloom's performance is as good as Newman's.

What this all boils down to is that "The Outrage" isn't a bad movie just one which makes one big mistake by shifting the tone during one of the segments. My advice is that if you have never seen "Rashomon" watch "The Outrage" then watch "Rashomon" and then watch "The Outrage" again because it will allow you to understand not only why "Rashomon" is so good but also where "The Outrage" goes wrong.