Monday, 8 July 2013


“Pictures are for entertainment, messages should be delivered by Western Union.” - Samuel Goldwyn

We watched the 1972 John Sturges “Joe Kidd” last weekend. This was a good old fashioned Western starring Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, John Saxon – “old fashioned” relating to the look and feel, although the plot was a little more inventive than the cowboys versus Indians or bad guys versus good guys type of Western. We quite enjoyed it as it was short, direct and non-pretentious. Had not seen a Western for ages, so this was quite a refreshing change from the typical Hollywood pap that is served up nowadays.

Joe Kidd (Eastwood) is a tough, former bounty hunter in the American Southwest. When a band of Mexicans find their U. S. land claims denied and all relevant records “destroyed in a courthouse fire”, they turn to violence and eye for eye and tooth for tooth reprisals. Louis Chama (Saxon) is their charismatic leader, full of revolutionary rhetoric and mobilizing the Mexicans under him to demand land reform. A wealthy landowner with interests in the disputed area, Frank Harlan (Duvall), decides to settle things his own way – using a slash, burn and destroy policy. He hires a band of killers and wants Joe Kidd to help them track Chama. Initially, Kidd wants to avoid any involvement, until Chama makes the mistake of stealing Kidd’s horses and terrorising his friends.

The plot turns quite ambivalent denouncing violence on the one hand, but justifying on the other, ending up on the side of truth, justice and the American way in the end. Nevertheless, it does make for an interesting story and there are enough Western conventions in it to keep the genre fans happy. Eastwood plays his role with ease and aplomb – having been typecast to a certain extent as the tough, strong silent cowboy who rights wrongs. The other actors all do well also, even the two token females in what is essentially a cowboy and horse opera.

Lalo Schifrin’s music is suitably ominous and quite suited to the action, blending into the background when it needs to and as it should. Costumes, sets and wide open spaces are well done, Hollywood has enough experience in this genre to make it look right. Overall the film is entertaining and a good B-grade film with enough wry humour, action and even some morality/ethical type of questioning in order to keep it interesting. Watch it if you come across it, it’s quite good fun!

1 comment:

  1. I loved this movie but I am a Clint Eastwood groupie ;-)