My Kind of Male Character

Since T99 is putting up the challenge, I suppose I ought to think about an example of what I like to see in how men are portrayed.  I'd like to put forward an example from John Wayne -- Red River, surely, or Rio Bravo.  But the truth is that my favorite of all is from a 1980s movie of no special fame.

This rendition of the end scene, if you don't know the movie, is just as good even in a foreign tongue.

Here is one who has learned to live in fellowship with a horse or a hawk or a sword, and thus has every strength that might bring glory to a man:  but in spite of that he has not lost the most important thing.  If you don't know the film, perhaps you should see it, though in truth the music is terrible.  All the same, it may be the best we have ever done at capturing the ideal -- and at understanding the importance of lies and sin, embodied in the character portrayed by Matthew Broderick, in maintaining faith against the hardships of the world.  It is those lies that turn the warrior from despair and even suicide, and sustain him until the hour when God's grace brings him joy.

There lies a subtle lesson.


tyree said...

Ladyhawk was always one of my favorites.

Joseph W. said...

I always thought Leo McKern stole it despite the minor role. (He also played my favorite fictional lawyer - Rumpole of the Bailey.) Best exchange was something like this -

Matthew Broderick: "This hawk's been shot."

Leo McKern: "Good lad! Bring it up and we'll cook it for supper!"

Matthew Broderick: "Oh, no, we can't eat this hawk!"

Leo McKern: (looks around) "Is it LENT again already?!?"

Joseph W. said...

Which I guess is my way of saying, this is my kind of male character.

Or for a shorter, dramatic clip - this one.

DL Sly said...

Love Ladyhawke! My favorite though is Matthew Broderick's role, Mouse. I love the way he talks to God:

Soldier #1: Where is Navarre?
Phillipe: Navarre? Navarre? Ah, yes. Big man, black horse. I thought I saw him ride south, toward Aquila
Soldier #2: Ha, then we ride north.
Phillipe: It isn't polite to assume that someone is a liar when you've only just met them.
Soldier #1: And yet you knew we would. We ride south.
Phillipe: [talking to God] I told the truth, Lord. How can I learn any moral lessons when you keep confusing me this way?

Lars Walker said...

I'm also a fan of Ladyhawke. Saw it new, when it was in theaters.

Eric said...

A more subtle movie than one might think--I remember seeing it in the theater when it came out.

And thinking the sound track was not quite right either.

Still. What I find interesting is looking up the director and screenwriters. The director, Richard Donner, had directed "The Omen" in 1976, and also directed "Superman" in 1978, and went on to direct the "Lethal Weapon" movies. But perhaps more interestingly, Donner directed a lot of TV shows: episodes from "The Rifleman", "Have Gun, Will Travel", "12 O'Clock High", "The Twighlight Zone" among others. The guy was very experienced at telling a story.

Among the writers, (4 are credited), Edward Kharma also wrote the screen play for "Enemy Mine" and the TV mini-series "Merlin" and was a producer for the movie "House of Cards". Michael Thomas wrote "The Hunger" and most recently "The Devil's Double". And again most interestingly, David Peoples, who did the screen play for "Blade Runner" and "Blood of Heroes" (both films featuring Rutger Hauer) and wrote the treatment for "Unforgiven".

As I get older, I increasingly note who the director and writers are on a movie--I find that often those will be a good indicator on whether I'll like the film or not.

Grim said...

That's a very good point, Eric. Who do you think is the best screenplay writer working today?

Anonymous said...

I like the movie and the soundtrack! No, it is by no means period correct, in the main. In the CD notes, Alan Parsons noted that if the producers had gone with a "Korngold" score (Captain Blood, Errol Flynn's Robin Hood) rather than what they chose, they would still have been 700 years out of date rather than 800.

I saw the movie again last year and it holds up very well. Mouse still got on my nerves, though. Yes, Leo McKern stole the show but watching the Isabeau and Navarre . . . Indeed a man's man ( and a lady's man, too.)


Grim said...

There's actually one piece of music in the film that is period correct -- the trotto they dance to is genuinely medieval (although Italian).

Grim said...


I spent the evening watching your Rumpole. There's a great deal of despair in the long episode you cite. Who am I exactly?

May I say, not that one but this one:

Joseph W. said...

(he grins) - I should've known you'd gravitate to that clip. I hope you found the evening well spent. (And if so maybe you are partly repaid for turning me on to John Wayne.)

The author, John Mortimer, wrote them up as short stories in a very P.G.-Wodehousian style, that makes them all feel lighthearted even when the subjects are serious. (The first three "Rumpole Omnibus" collections are excellent..but a few of the later collections, which came after they stopped doing the TV scripts, are uninspired and not worth looking at.) I loved all those stories for years before I ever thought I'd be a lawyer myself.

The episode I linked to was the first one made (though the story was not the first chronologically), and had a grimmer feel than almost all the later ones. But I think there's something beautiful in the sad parts, the arguments with Nick. Nick, as a young academic, is worried about Big Ideas..."won't society be better off if he's convicted...?" - just as his instructing solicitor wants the case to be about police racism -
Horace (that's Rumpole's first name) is focused only on doing his duty, within the system as it is, and fighting for his client. It's a quiet, non-flamboyant sort of heroism that I find extremely appealing, and is a common theme throughout the stories.

There's a very poignant moment at the end of "Rumpole and the Old Boy Net" - his clients have been rescued from a blackmail conviction, and he suspects it's because his junior barrister has disobeyed a judge's order and revealed the accuser's name to the press...he gives her a very stern lecture on the importance of keeping the rules:

"You'd better learn something quickly, have to keep the rules! You can swear at them, argue your way round them, do your damnedest to change them, but if you break the rules yourself, how the hell are you going to help the other idiots out of trouble?"

He lives by that, even when it breaks his heart - that's the climax of "Rumpole and the Alternative Society."

A lot of his stories involve the Timson family, the archetypal "ordinary decent criminals" we talked about long ago. My personal favorite of these is "Rumpole and the Children of the Devil" - which puts him in family court against a deeply caring social worker. (I don't write about my own cases here, but I've had a brush or two with that side of things...let's just say, I really loved that story.)

Joseph W. said...

P.S. - In this story (no one's put the video on YouTube), he expresses a few lawyer-centric views on the subject of automation. His client is accused of soliciting a bribe, and the chief bit of prosecution evidence is a recording:

"In the good old days when I did the Penge Bungalow Murders, and scored a remarkable success, although I say it myself, alone and without a leader, witnesses were, by and large, human beings. And as human beings, they could be cross-examined, suggestions could be made to them and they were subject to merciful confusion and welcome failures of recollection. Things, I regret to have to say it, have not improved since those distant days, and many of the faults must be laid at the door of automation. Not only have witnesses changed. String quartets, which were once the pride of the tea room, have now been replaced by an abominable form of mechanical music. The toasting fork has given way to an alarming machine that fires singed bread at you like a minute gun. The comforting waitress in black bombazine has become a device that contrives to shoot a warmish and unidentifiable fluid into a plastic cup and over your trousers at the drop of a considerable sum of money. None of these engines is an improvement on the human factor, neither are trials made any easier by the replacement of the living witness with the electronic device. It is hard to cross-examine a machine or to try and shake its recollection..."

Texan99 said...

Mouse (to God): "It's always best to tell the truth. Thank You. I see that now."

Fine flick.

Grim said...


There's a good line or two in that script, isn't there?

'Sam Ballard.' He introduced himself. 'I'm leading for the Crown. In "Lee". By the way, I passed Chambers this morning. In fact I dropped something in your tray.'
'Did you, Bollard?' I said airily. 'Can't say I noticed.'
'It was about a meeting of LAC. He pronounced it as one word, like the place Sir Lancelot came from. 'I do hope you can find time to join us. We should value your contribution.'
'"Lawyers As Churchgoers"? I may have to give that a miss, Bollard. My doctor has advised me to avoid all excitement.'


The Mouse got most of the best lines, but Imperious did get a few. "Walk on the left side" has always been a favorite of mine.

Joseph W. said...

It's actually a short story (though it was based on a script) - as I have heard the author admit, the style is largely P.G. Wodehouse, and he pulls it off masterfully. My favorite exchange from the story:

Fiona: "...She's tremendously into Women's Liberation."

Rumpole: "So am I!"

Fiona: "You?"

Rumpole: "All for Women's Liberation. Particularly the liberation of Mrs. Lorraine Lee."

Which, now that I think of it, sums up beautifully a major theme of the stories that I mention above - trying to do justice for the individual amidst a herd of characters who care more about group loyalties or causes.

A lawyer who tries dubious rape cases will find himself there. I can imagine the same being true in combat-zone homicides.