The Outrage (1964)

The Outrage (1964), directed by Martin Ritt.

This is an odd little remake of Rashomon (1950) (Kurosawa's "strange picture scroll") in a Western setting. The original created a famous trope in story-telling: how a past event is remembered differently by different observers.

The "event" is a rape where the husband is tied up and made to watch, followed by his death by stabbing. A murder? We're not sure: different accounts and too many confessions.

This gives the actors a chance to play varying versions of their characters. In his own account the bandit Carrasco is clever and has intense magnetism. In his victim's testimony she describes him as drunk and vulgar, and she plays up the melodramatic tragedy of her own role.

It's not just the murder that leaves us uncertain, but the circumstances of the sexual assault: what happened afterwards, what was everyone's attitude?

This is suggesting fraught, heavy issues of violence, consent and secret desires when the director blows it up with a bizarre final account that becomes an outdoor bedroom farce where the victim is dissatisfied with the manliness of both her husband and attacker and is happy to see them fight it out.

Although a remake of an earlier film, it has strong stagey aspects with playwright-speak in the exposition, particularly in the framing story at the train depot in the rain. I wonder if that was intentional?

The cast are all very good:

Score by Alex North and with James Wong Howe's always stunning cinematography. He uses a hand-held camera during the fight scenes.

Available on DVD.