Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970) has Siegel channeling Leone, with a Budd Boetticher story, and Eastwood returning to the saddle. Is an Eastwood western an Eastwood western without having him lighting a stick of dynamite or clinching teeth on a cigarillo? A bridge's trestle is dynamited, an arrow wound needs gun powder cauterization, he still draws faster and hits his target (when drunk due to having to endure the cauterized wound, it still only took him three times before hitting dynamite that blew up the bridge), and even has a major contribution to Mexican revolution against the French! Shirley MacLaine is a beauty even while buried within a nun disguise. Her role is to dupe her "rescuer" into getting her safely some other place. He admits that he wants the French's treasure chest and this is her chance to capitalize on his services for her to help in the revolution. The real stars to me are Ennio Morricone's score and the breathtaking Mexico locations which really gave Siegel a spectacular backdrop for the principle action. The use of a rattlesnake rattle by MacLaine in an abandoned village, accosted by natural growth and the elements. This rattle is used to scare off a French soldier and later MacLaine uses a heavy silver crucifix to ward off a tribe that have partially accepted Christianity so her part in getting the two of them to the French garrison is substantial.

I get that Siegel and Shirley didn't exactly see eye to eye but her photogenic face and ability to disappear into a character helped the film despite their differences. She carries this complicated mix of pious Catholic duty and the woman of ill repute who occasionally emerges. Seeing Eastwood's Hogan letting his guard down and admitting to his attraction to her while she holds off her own feelings is fun. Their dynamic is amusing. Despite the film's rep critically (many of those involved even panned it), I love the movie. I like Eastwood in this because of his dry wit, poking fun at his past iconic roles at that point, playful exchange with MacLaine particularly in regards to her nun duty, and the adventurous spirit the film has which allows him to be a part of all the action as only he could.

****


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