Thursday, 21 August 2008

No.34 : Wild Rovers

Wild Rovers at the IMDb

William Holden and Ryan O’Neil star in this underseen western (Less than 400 IMDb votes!) directed by Pink Panther helmer Blake Edwards. It’s not hard to see why it hasn’t caught the imagination like some of its contemporaries as it’s a bit forgettable.

Our two heroes play a pair of cattlemen who dream of having a ranch but can’t save a dime when the booze and hookers hove into view after a long time on the plains. When a cow poke dies in a needless accident they decide to rob a bank rather than continue with their dangerous and poorly paid profession.

Rather than go down the exciting route of a traditional stick up, they decide to kidnap the bank manager’s family and get him to hand over the cash. Things go smoothly and they score $34,000, but predictably their problems are only just beginning. They are forced to double up in the saddle when a cougar takes a bite out of one of their horses and they have an extra mouth to feed in the shape of a new born puppy - awww.

After some decent haggling which swaps the puppy for a mule they set off with the posse in hot-ish pursuit - leaving trail leader Karl Malden a bit short handed, especially as some gits are open ranging sheep on their land.

The ‘Wild Rovers’ title is more relevant as the film progresses are our men try to rope some wild horses and generally rough it, but you’re never convinced that their luxury trailers are more than 50 feet away. When a town looms up on the horizon they decide to have one last blow out before heading to Mexico and their new life. If the diversion sounds like a bad idea wait until O’Neil decides to get involved in a high stakes poker game!

With the posse now close by and one of our team injured it’s anyone’s guess who, if anyone, will make the promised land.

I didn’t actively dislike this film but it doesn’t have anything to recommend it either. The two leads are usually watchable but they are given precious little to work with here. The idea of breaking away from the daily grind is a familiar one, but is tempered with the ‘crime doesn’t pay’ message. The usual life on the range clichés are trotted out and despite some stunning Monument Valley locations it has little to set it apart from 100 other films.

Holden’s wise old timer is set against O’Neil’s hot headed youth but they never really get into what you’d call conflict or great camaraderie. With the cast and locations available a great film was a definite possibility but instead we get a mediocre one, that deserves its relative anonymity.

Best Bit : Poker Shoot Out!
‘W’ Rating 12/23

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