The Tonto Woman is a half hour short film of the western genre. Watching it reminded me just how little exposure I’ve had to westerns for most of my life. Westerns were ubiquitous on TV and at the movies for decades (and in books and such as well), to the point where seeing the beginning of one feels very familiar, like “Oh well, yet another western.” But when I think about it, since seeing Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven twenty years ago or whatever it was, I doubt I’ve seen much of anything in this genre beyond a few minutes of a Gunsmoke episode on TV Land now and again.
Anyway, this is a serious, reasonably intelligent, well-done story. I was able to follow almost all of it quite well. I’m a little disappointed, though, in how the gunfight is handled. I’m not totally opposed to having it occur off camera, but if you’re going to do that, at least have the implications spelled out very clearly. The main character is surrounded by three armed men, and he ends up staggering away seriously wounded. Did they think he was dead, or close enough that they could leave him to die, and they were wrong? Did he somehow shoot and kill all three of them in the gunfight while getting shot himself? It would be nice to know what exactly happened.
It’s a little slow at times, but it raises some interesting issues and does an OK job of exploring them. The Tonto Woman is not a big favorite of mine, but it’s a solid enough offering.