Suave Mexican cattleman Alvarez Kelly has little interest in the Civil War except to make some money. But after a long drive to deliver cattle to the Unionists he finds himself kidnapped by... See full summary »
Young Tina lives with her mother and stepfather on a wildlife reserve in Kenya. While her stepfather believes this is a wonderful environment for her to grow up in, her mother becomes ... See full summary »
Since the death of his mother, Pascal, ten years old, spends his holidays with his father, the rich Laurent Segur. One day, when diving near the shores of Corse, an aircraft falls into the ... See full summary »
Tony and Felix own a tramp boat, and sail around the Caribbean doing odd jobs and drinking a lot. They agree to ferry the beautiful but passportless Irena to another island. They both fall ... See full summary »
A ruthless Union captain is renowned throughout his prison fort as the toughest soldier in the business, capable of capturing every escaped convict under his supervision. However, when he ... See full summary »
As usual with most of the RKO films from this era "presented" by RKO-owner Howard Hughes, the PCA number is usually 500-1000 digits lower than the one from other studios being released at ... See full summary »
Boots Malone is jockey's agent and a bit of a wheeler-dealer who went from living at the Ritz to living in a room at the stables when his star jockey was killed in an accident. After nearly... See full summary »
Suave Mexican cattleman Alvarez Kelly has little interest in the Civil War except to make some money. But after a long drive to deliver cattle to the Unionists he finds himself kidnapped by Confederate Colonel Tom Rossiter. With his hungry troops surrounded in Richmond the Colonel intends, one way or the other, to persuade Kelly to help steal the herd and move it into town. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
This was based upon the actual "Beefsteak Raid" of September 14-16, 1864. See more »
Despite the firepower of the Union Cavalry at the bridge, not one steer is seen to fall down dead or wounded. There are fallen cattle seen after the herd has crossed the bridge, but these are obviously live cattle with their legs tied, as can be seen when they struggle to stand up. See more »
Now the main thing to remember is... cattle are like women. Sometimes you have to be firm with them. Sometimes you have to be gentle. And sometimes you have to give them a slap on the rump.
See more »
This is another film I decided to re-acquaint myself with in order to pay a well-deserved tribute to the late, great Richard Widmark. It’s one of the last Westerns he did and, in fact, it came at a time when the old-style Hollywood approach to the genre was coming to an end; actually, Widmark’s co-star from ALVAREZ KELLY – William Holden (here playing the title character) – would only a few years later feature in the film that gave the Western new-fangled maturity and an equally potent elegiac tone i.e. Sam Peckinpah’s THE WILD BUNCH (1969)!
Anyway, to get back to the matter at hand, ALVAREZ KELLY seems to me to be unjustly neglected when it comes to discussing large-scale Westerns of the era. It may be because there is little action per se – though the climactic skirmish/chase (culminating in the blowing-up of a bridge: let’s not forget that Holden was one of the leads in two big-budget, star-studded war adventures, namely THE BRIDGES AT TOKO-RI  and THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI ) is exciting enough – or the fact that the plot is atypical (inspired by a true incident in which a herd of cattle, sold to the Yanks by neutral Holden during the American Civil War, is stolen en masse from under their very noses by the opposing Confederate side, led by Widmark and who has abducted Holden to this end!). With respect to this curious narrative, the film opens with a nice animated sequence depicting the importance of securing food at a time of war throughout the ages.
The two stars’ respective parts have been tailor-made for their established screen personas. Holden is cynical, opportunistic and charming (ironically, I’ve just recalled that I used these exact same words to describe Widmark’s younger character in GARDEN OF EVIL !). Widmark, on the other hand, is here a tough army man whose commitment to the Southern cause makes him ruthless above all else – alienating him from fiancée Janice Rule, and even considering drowning the entire herd in a swamp if it’s to fall back into the hands of the Yanks; sensing his unreasonable outlook early on, Holden quips: “God save me from dedicated men”! They’re at their best in a couple of major confrontation scenes: the first in which a one-eyed Widmark shoots off one of Holden’s fingers (while the latter is in prison) because of his lack of co-operation, and when Holden coolly explains to an aghast – and subsequently furious – Widmark that the clandestine passage he arranged for (on a steamboat which has just sailed) was not for himself but rather the disenchanted Rule! Predictably, but believably, the two men’s relationship ends in mutual respect – with Widmark even saving Holden’s life towards the end.
The supporting cast is led by the afore-mentioned Rule, who does quite well by her Southern belle role (another lady – played by Victoria Shaw – proves more responsive and loyal to Widmark’s exploits), and Patrick O’Neal in the part of the Unionist Major who negotiated the initial deal with Holden, is having a hard time convincing his superiors of the enemy’s incredible plan, and who can’t fathom how the black slaves are unwilling to emancipate themselves (but rather shield those who want to keep them under their thumb!). By the way, surely one of the film’s main assets is John Green’s cheerful and memorable score (complete with a hackneyed yet agreeable title tune sung by The Brothers Four, an obscure folk group which seems to have remained active to this day).
This unusual Western, then, is more than just a pleasant diversion (an epithet by which it’s often dismissed): good-looking, engaging, and certainly never boring – despite a not inconsiderable length of 110 minutes (though it’s listed officially on most sources at my disposal as being 116!).
7 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?