Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry) makes his directorial debut with this superb, action-packed western. Featuring a poignant, unconventional screenplay by A.B. Guthrie, Jr., and a powerful performance by legendary actor Walter ... more »Matthau in his first screen role, The Kentuckian is an unforgettable western adventure of the highest caliber. Big Eli Wakefield (Lancaster) and his youngson, Little Eli (Donald MacDonald), are rugged Kentucky adventurers who long for an exciting life on the Texas frontier. They soon learn, however, that the greatest challenge to their progress lies not in the uncharted wilderness but in the people they meet along the way. Thrust into the midst of abitter family feud, Eli confronts both the deadly rage of a madman (Matthau) and the love of a beautiful woman (Diana Lynn). But when he's lured into a brutal final showdown, Eli discovers that the only way to escape with his life is to stay true to his convictions, his honor and his dream.« less
The whip fight was great! Worth watching just for that.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Catherine S. from DETROIT, MI Reviewed on 12/18/2009...
Burt Lancaster is in this quaint movie with expert acting and a great ending.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
They sure dont make em like this anymore!
rob mahar | missoula,MT. | 01/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"wow, we've got some pretty heavy critics here! my guess is that anyone who doesnt like the kentuckian is either a sissy or reviews way to many movies and needs to get some sunshine. as a boy i was fasinated by this movie. it was easy to be romanced by this film because of the boy and his dog and how he prefered hannah over the school marm, and is ultimatly right about her in the in the end. the movie knows exactly where its going(if you are paying attention)and has a beautiful way of showing you what things must have been like back then,i.e. the singing black entertainers prompting lancaster of "texas""texas" texas"!, when the boat comes to town. this is a wonderful movie for children that havent yet been polluted by the endless amount of crap that unfortunatly is in abundance nowadays. this film still has enough drama and human interest with an actual, real substance for any age. its a mere record of what life was like in one part of the world at one time and its done quite well if you let the movie take you instead of find whats wrong with it."
Not bad, not classic, but all Lancaster...
Mark Savary | Seattle, WA | 05/14/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"One of only two films directed by Lancaster, "The Kentuckian" is neither a rousing success nor a glaring disaster. The direction is not all that stylish, but it is no embarrassment. Bernard Herrmann adds to the picture with his musical score.The story is about Kentucky frontiersman Big Eli, and his son Little Eli, fleeing an infamous family feud and looking for a new life in Texas. They stop along the way to free a bondswoman from her contract, which costs them all of their "Texas money", the funds set aside for passage to Texas.Big Eli goes to work for his brother (John McIntire), in the tobacco business, and life among townspeople changes his plans, much to his son's dismay.There is romance, and some pretty fair action with Lancaster in a whip fight. The best moment is Lancaster rushing to reach a shooter as he reloads his flintlock rifle in real-time.Walter Matthau has a good turn as a menacing town boss, and John Carradine does a marvelous portrayal of a medicine man/snake oil salesman. Una Merkel plays Eli's sister-in-law.Dianne Foster is ravishing as the freed bondswoman Hannah. She guest-starred in a ton of TV classics in the 50's and 60's, including "Wagon Train", "Perry Mason", "The Fugitive", "Honey West", "Petticoat Junction", and "Route 66".At times, the picture does not seem to know where it's going. At other times, the picture is very cohesive. The DVD transfer isn't bad, either. Well worth a viewing, "The Kentuckian" is a real treat for Lancaster fans."
Outstanding Frontier Adventure
Alamo_guy | 11/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great film about America's past. Man and boy set out to reach Texas and find all sorts of trouble along the way. Great Bernard Herrmann score sets the haunting mood of this film with real gusto. I will never forget this one."
Great characters for Matthau and Carradine.
R. Christenson | Pine, CO USA | 05/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A fine family classic in the tradition of The Proud Rebel, Treasure of Lost Canyon, and Rachel and the Stranger. Burt Lancaster is a widower raising his son in the Kentucky wilderness, which has become too tame for them at the time of this story, so they've saved enough for a river boat ticket to Texas. But a bond girl (Dianne Foster) shows them kindness, so they buy her freedom with their "Texas money." They tentatively plan to take her with them when they save up enough money again, so Lancaster takes a job with his brother (John McIntyre) and Foster works for a local bar keeper played by Walter Matthau in his first screen role. Meanwhile some feuders are pursuing Lancaster just because of his name (Watefield), and bound to catch up soon. There's an interesting riverboat scene and some plot developments (Diana Lynn) that come between father and son; but the best part is a whip fight with Matthau, a very interesting whip-cracking character who makes this movie worth seeing for his scenes alone. John Carradine is also outstanding as a snake-oil salesman, and the rest of the cast is fine as well."