Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)

“What the hell is a nun doing out here?”

Synopsis:
A mercenary gunfighter (Clint Eastwood) rescues a feisty nun (Shirley MacLaine) in the desert, and tries to bring her to safety. When he discovers that she’s on her way to help Mexican revolutionaries blow up a French fort, they find that their interests are aligned.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Don Siegel’s comedic western — based on a story by Budd Boetticher — has received mixed reviews over the years (see links below). For my part, I enjoyed the inspired pairing of MacLaine (one of my favorite actresses) and Eastwood, who has fun with his Spaghetti-western fame as “The Man With No Name”. In his review, Peary focuses primarily on Eastwood’s characterization, noting that this was the first time Eastwood played a tough guy who “intimidates men but has no idea how to handle women” — indeed, it’s the interplay between these two forces of nature (MacLaine is no passive nun!) which provides most of the fun.

P.S. If you’ve never seen this film and don’t want its primary mystery given away, make sure not to read any online reviews; half of them shamelessly reveal spoilers.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Shirley MacLaine’s wonderfully comedic performance as “Sister Sara”
  • Beautiful cinematography by Mexican D.P. Gabriel Figueroa
  • Clever dialogue: “All the women I’ve ever known were natural-born liars, but I never knew about nuns until now.”
  • Ennio Morricone’s film score

Must See?
No, but it’s highly recommended.

Links:

One Response to “Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)”

  1. Not a must – though it’s entertaining enough, and will help pass the time nicely on a Sunday afternoon (as it just did for me).

    Though it is something of a comedy, the laughs are low-level and result mostly from the ‘tension’ in the unlikely partnership between MacLaine and Eastwood. (For some, the pairing may bring to mind the one of Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr in ‘Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison’.) They work well together.

    It’s always nice to listen to a Morricone score, even if this time around he is called on to do less and be more subservient to the story – punching up the atmosphere and action. The ‘braying’ sound in the opening theme is a nice touch.

    DP Figueroa (who shot over 200 films, surprisingly few in the English language) opens the film with an arresting night image but also appears to have been called on to do less (compare this to his more expressive work in ‘The Night of the Iguana’ and some Bunuel films).

    Overall, not a wildly memorable film afterwards.

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