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The Great American Western, Vol. 10 [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Digitally mastered
  • Interactive menus
  • Scene access

Synopsis

The Over-the-Hill Gang
One of the better and more diverting of ABC's first full season of made-for-television movies, The Over-the-Hill Gang was a low-budget Western with a gimmick: Get a bunch of elderly actors, known either for their leading roles in the 1930s, or for playing comic sidekicks (and Walter Brennan was a lot of both categories) through the 1950s, and put them together in a plot. The result was this enjoyable oater about a quartet of retired Texas Rangers (Pat O'Brien, Walter Brennan, Chill Wills, Edgar Buchanan) who take on the corrupt mayor (Edward Andrews) of a small Nevada town where O'Brien's daughter (Kris Nelson) and newspaper editor son-in-law (Rick Nelson) live. Jack Elam represents the bad guys' muscle with his usual threatening aplomb, and Andy Devine gets a lot of mileage out of his role as a corrupt, inept judge. The other surprise in the cast is Gypsy Rose Lee, looking radiant as ever, portraying an admirer of the former rangers, in what was her final screen appearance, and such familiar old faces as Myron Healey, William Benedict, and Elmira Sessions in supporting roles. When O'Brien and company realize that they're no longer fast enough to do the job with guns, they decide to use their wits instead, outsmarting and outflanking the villains. The pacing by director Jean Yarbrough (whose own career went back to the 1920s, and whose last film this was) is a little leisurely, but the script is fairly clever and it's a lot of fun watching the veteran actors chewing up the scenery, with Devine having the most fun of all in an unusual role as a villain. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

The Over-the-Hill Gang Rides Again
The Over the Hill Gang Rides Again is a TV-movie sequel to 1969's ratings-grabbing The Over the Hill Gang, which told of a group of retired Texas Rangers rallying to save their small town from criminals. In the sequel, the gang --Walter Brennan, Edgar Buchanan, Andy Devine, and Chill Wills (Pat O'Brien, seen in the first film, is absent this time around) -- team up to rehabilitate Fred Astaire, cast against type as The Baltimore Kid, a one-time ranger who has become a town drunk. Astaire is restored to the job of marshal of Waco, while the other old-timers end up as his deputies. Harmless fun for an undiscerning audience, Over the Hill Gang Rides Again lacks the easygoing charm of the original film. Both Over the Hill Gang entries, by the way, were designed as pilots for an unsold weekly series. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

One-Eyed Jacks
Western bandit Kid Rio (Marlon Brando) is betrayed by his partner, Dad Longworth (Karl Malden). Escaping from prison, Rio learns that Longworth has become a wealthy and influential lawman. Rio thirsts for revenge, but bides his time, waiting for the right moment to strike. In the meantime, Rio spitefully seduces Longworth's adopted daughter, Louisa (Pina Pellicer). After killing a man in self-defense, Rio is publicly whipped by the powerful Longworth. When Rio's old gang accidentally kills a child during another holdup, Longworth has the perfect excuse to eliminate the troublesome Rio once and for all by hanging him. But that's not what happens at all. Stripped to its fundamentals, One-Eyed Jacks is a workable Western, worthy of perhaps 90 minutes' running time. But when Marlon Brando succeeded Stanley Kubrick in the director's chair, he allowed the film's 60-day shooting schedule to stretch into six months, and delivered a finished product running in excess of four hours. The current 141-minute version of One-Eyed Jacks isn't as ponderous as some critics have claimed, but it's still too much of a good thing. While Brando the director isn't precisely in the Kubrick class, Brando the actor delivers one of his finest and most focused performances (though he is upstaged throughout by Karl Malden). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Deadly Companions
Sam Peckinpah's first feature as director is this modest Western, taking place in the late 1860s. Yellowleg (Brian Keith), a former sergeant in the Union army, is obsessed with tracking down Turk (Chill Wills), a Rebel army deserter who, during the War Between the States, tried to scalp him as he lay wounded on a battlefield. Yellowleg finds Turk and his sidekick Billy (Steve Cochran) in a cantina and convinces them to help him rob a bank. They journey to Gila City, where the bank is located, and find that another group of bank robbers are also in Gila City to rob the same bank. During a shoot-out with the other bank robbers, Yellowleg accidentally kills the nine-year-old son of dance-hall hostess Kit Tilden (Maureen O'Hara). Remorseful at having caused the death of Kit's son, Yellowleg forces Turk and Billy to accompany him through Apache territory to bury Kit's son at the gravesite of her husband in the ghost town of Siringo. When Billy attacks Kit, Yellowleg throws him out of their camp. Then Turk deserts. As Kit and Yellowleg finally reach Siringo, Yellowleg realizes that he is in love with her. But then, Billy and Turk reappear, having robbed the bank in Gila City, leading to a final confrontation between Yellowleg and Turk. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Walter Brennan
    Walter Brennan
  • Edgar Buchanan
    Edgar Buchanan
  • Andy Devine
    Andy Devine
  • Jack Elam
    Jack Elam
  • Gypsy Rose Lee
    Gypsy Rose Lee
Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.