Two old-timers show they still have what it takes
Chrijeff | Scranton, PA | 04/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Robert Mitchum here plays James Flagg, a lawman grown old in harness, who has watched the West evolve from wild to modern and now finds himself an anachronism--or so his boss, Mayor Randolph Wilker (Martin Balsam), would have everyone think. Eager to make his town of Progress seem up-to-date and incidentally grease the skids for his own developing political career, he engineers Flagg's retirement (while making it look like a signal honor, pension and all) and succeeds only in making the veteran marshal, who singlehandedly tamed the town years before, feel useless. But Flagg suspects that the West has some wildness yet, as his old friend, the hermit Grundy (Douglas V. Fowley), has warned him of the presence of a gang of suspicious characters in the neighborhood. What's more, one of them seems to be an old adversary of his, Big John McKay (Kennedy), a famous outlaw long believed to be dead. Taking matters into his own hands, Flagg finds himself unexpectedly allied with McKay as they race to foil the gang's planned robbery of the train bringing a shipment of cash for Progress's new bank.Apparently set in New Mexico soon after statehood (Wilker dreams of the Governor's seat), this comedy-Western is more serious than many of its type and has some important things to say about honor, justice, and friendship. Both Flagg and McKay are disgusted by the decline in morals typified by McKay's gang of young gunslingers ("They got no pride, they got no honor!" McKay fumes after one of the up-and-comers shoots a man in the back) and eager to prove that though they may be a bit older and slower, they can still do the jobs that made their names. The final chase, involving not only the two old-timers on horseback but Wilker on a handcar and an array of early automobiles, is an utter delight. A movie that deserves to be better known."
Excellent comedy western
Kathie Mosher | Temecula, CA USA | 02/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From Glenn Yarborough's excellent rendition of the "Ballad of Marshall Flagg" at the beginning of the movie, to the end where Robert Mitchum handcuffs George Kennedy to ride him off to face justice....the movie was excellent.....and I still am waiting for it to be transferred to DVD where they could have comments by both Kennedys (director and actor), along with others like David Carradine, singer Glenn Yarborough....etc.
It is my favorite western (tied with Waterhole #3...that starred James Coburn and Carroll O'Connor.....
I think it was better than Kennedy's "Support Your..." movies with James Garner.
I thought it also had the best "ballad" along with Roger Miller's "Code of the West" with Waterhole #3.
If you enjoy comedy or westerns....you should love this movie, it has both .... and has a sly undercurrent of political incorrectness with subjects ranging from lustful politicians (decades before president Clinton)....and their passion for power at any cost (ie. several other presidents)...historical revisionism....age-ism......
I would have called it the best film of the year when it came out....and I love watching it whenever I can run across it....."
F. J. Harvey | Birmingham England | 12/13/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There are overtones of two Sam Peckinpah movies in this engaging and deft Western ,albeit its tone is different.It will evoke memories of The Wild Bunch in its depiction of traditional Western mores being left behind by changing times but where the Peckinpah is blood drenched and violent this adopts a lighter and more relaxed tone.Its theme of ageing men seeking one last hurrah was prefigured in ,what for me was Peckinpah's masterpiece "Ride the High Country" but where that was elegaic and tinged with a bitter sweet melancholy this is nostalgic and mellow.
Mitchum plays Marshall Flagg ,a veteran lawman in the town of Progress ,whose warnings of an impending attack on a bullion train by a veteran outlaw are pooh-poohed by the Major ,an engaging opportunist played with skill and dexterity by the ever dependable Martin Balsam .He is put out to grass by the town and tries to head off the robbery on his own .He discovers that the man he assumed was behind the robbery -an old antagonist "Jack"(George Kennedy)is held in contempt by the youthful leaders of the gang ,headed by a saturnine David Carradine.They two veterans combine forces to try and thwart the robbery ,and the climax as the train is pursued by the bad guys is lively if perhaps overlong and played rather too broadly.
The movie seems to me to reflect the political tensions of its era-the late 60's with the demonising of the long haired young whose lack of scruple is pointedly contrasted with the more restarined approach of an older school of bandit .It is a deeply Conservative movie in that regard .
Fine performances by Mitchum and Kennedy help enormously and the mood throughout is relaxed and tinged with deft touches of comedy.
It stands as one example of the tendency common in Westerns from that era of veteran stars guying their own image eg Mitchum and Wayne in EL Dorado ,Fonda and Douglas in There Was a Crooked Man .
Unassuming and fun -not a great Western but a solid second string one"
Very Pleasant Western Comedy!!
F. J. Harvey | 09/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Robert Mitchum stars a forcibly retired Marshall with George Kennedy as an over the hill villian being forced out a gang because of his age as they unite forces to break up and bust that same gang set in the American West during the early 1900's.It's a very pleasant western comedy well worth seeing!!"