1962 Classic ‘Lonely Are The Brave’ Thursday

Movie poster for ‘Lonely are the Brave.’ Courtesy/rottentomatoes.com



“Lonely are the Brave” (1962, rated PG) takes viewers beyond the fences, where civilization means something very different, and a horse is a man’s best friend.

“In the more than 60 films that I’ve made, this is my favorite,” wrote leading man Kirk Douglas in a 1989 letter to the Los Angeles Times, after the death of Edward Abbey, on whose novel “The Brave Cowboy” the film is based. 

Los Alamos audiences will have their chance to see why at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the upstairs meeting room theater at Mesa Public Library.

John W. Burns (Douglas) is an outlaw by nature. He lives alone, working as a ranch hand, riding his horse wherever the desert allows. He re-enters society in order to help his old friend Paul Bondi (Michael Kane), imprisoned for aiding illegal immigrants. He plans to get arrested for acting drunk and disorderly, and then while in the slammer, slip a file out of his cowboy boot so Bondi can break out.

Unfortunately, even the best laid plans sometimes don’t work out, and Burns finds himself running from the sheriff (Walter Mathau), scampering with his horse Whisky up mountains no horse should ever ascend. Will he make it? More interestingly, will he make it with his horse?  

“Lonely are the Brave” was shot in New Mexico, and the grandiose black-and-white landscapes add visual poetry to Burns’ story. The vast, wild earth looks injured by the highways. The motionless, silent scrub is tortured by the roaring trucks. One gets the sense that Burns feels the same.

Director David Miller and writer Dalton Trumbo do justice to Abbey’s book, remaining true to his dirt- and dust- and snake-loving voice.

Completing the series’ autumn season will be “Baghdad Café” on Dec. 4. The Free Film Series is supported by the Friends of Los Alamos County Libraries.

For more information, call the library at 505.662.8240.