WALKER (Criterion, 1987) D: Alex Cox, w/ Ed Harris, Peter Boyle. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNN
In 1855, American adventurer and madman William Walker invaded Nicaragua with a tiny private army, made himself president, instituted slavery and ruled for two years. In 1987, with the Sandinista vs. Contra war raging, Alex Cox went to Nicaragua to film Walker’s story with the explicit intention of reminding Americans of the folly of interfering in Latin America.
Cox emerged with history as looned-out spaghetti western, adapting the visual stylings of Sergio Leone and the violence of Sam Peckinpah. A great performance by Ed Harris holds the whole movie together with the intensity he brings to Walker’s growing puritanical megalomania.
It’s big fun and an appropriate approach to a completely crazed and well-documented bit of American history.
The movie killed Cox and writer Rudy Wurlitzer’s Hollywood careers. They laugh about it on their shared commentary, mainly devoted to the movie’s flamboyant anachronisms and pointing out that Walker’s liberty-and-democracy rhetoric is still being used in Iraq today.
Extras Cox and Wurlitzer commentary, making-of doc, booklet with Wurlitzer essay, on-set story, extra memoir. Widescreen.