Friday, August 29, 2014

Wild Rovers (1971)

Director: Blake Edwards

Writer: Blake Edwards

Composer: Jerry Goldsmith

Starring: William Holden, Ryan O'Neal, Karl Malden, Lynn Carlin, Tom Skerritt, Joe Don Baker, James Olson, Leora Dana, Moses Gunn, Victor French, Rachel Roberts

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They were damned good cowboys, until they robbed a bank.

Plot: Ross Bodine and Frank Post are cowhands on Walt Buckman's R-Bar-R ranch. Bodine is older and broods a bit about how he will get along when he's too old to cowboy. Post is young and rambunctious and ambitious for a better life than wrangling cows. When one of their fellow cowboys is killed in a corral accident, Post suggests a way into a better life for himself and his friend: robbing a bank. Bodine reluctantly joins in the plan and the two contrive to rob the local bank. They make good their escape initially, but Walt Buckman and his two sons, John and Paul, are incensed at this betrayal by their own trusted employees. John and Paul set out to bring Bodine and Post to justice.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

Every once in a while Blake Edwards makes a really good picture.  WILD ROVERS is well-shot, paced and written.  His dialogue is so natural and not the kind of thing you hear much in pictures.  William Holden is great of course.  Ryan O'Neal has good and bad moments.  He feels out of place during the scene when he and Ross (Holden) are talking about death in the first half hour.  Then later they're in a saloon just kind of shootin' the shit and he's marvelous.  Look for some fun, pre-famous performances by Tom Skerritt and Joe Don Baker.  The movie's only two hours and sixteen minutes but I found it odd that there was an Entr'acte, a little intermission, about an hour and a half into it.  They were usually found in much longer movies and they were falling out of fashion by the dawn of the 1970s.  I guess audiences weren't used to two hour films back then like we are now.

The filming locations are fantastic.  I'd love to see this on the big screen, taking me back to so many of these places I've visited like Arches National Park, The Painted Desert and Monument Valley.  But the best reason to watch this film is for Jerry Goldsmith's wonderful score.  It's one of his best, if not THE best, he made for a Western.  It's just brilliant and exciting.  I've been enthusiastically listening to the soundtrack for easily twenty five years and it never gets old and it's as refreshing to hear now as it was then.  This is very good picture in so many ways, then why isn't this out on DVD?  I grabbed it off of TCM many years ago (damn, I love that channel), but the quality isn't the greatest.

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