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Franklin J. Schaffner
Will Penny, an aging cowpoke, takes a job on a ranch which requires him to ride the line of the property looking for trespassers or, worse, squatters. He finds that his cabin in the high mountains has been appropriated by a woman whose guide to Oregon has deserted her and her son. Too ashamed to kick mother and child out just as the bitter winter of the mountains sets in, he agrees to share the cabin until the spring thaw. But it isn't just the snow that slowly thaws; the lonely man and woman soon forget their mutual hostility and start developing a deep love for one another. Written by
Fifth feature film directed by Tom Gries. As all of Gries' previous films had arguably been B-movies, this film can be considered Gries' first A-movie production. His credits prior to this film were dominated by writing and director gigs on television. See more »
When "preacher" Quint is shot in front of the line shack the rope attached to him to pull him backwards is very obvious and very noticeable. See more »
That's always the way, ain't it?
What's always the way?
Let a man die, right away he's "good, old Claude". How was he *before* he bucked out?
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Will Penny is an absolutely superb film. I find no flaws in it. A story about rough men and hard times, its plot and characters stand on their own merits, not the cowboy setting. The scenery is perfect; the great west during a harsh winter after a long cattle drive. We feel like we are there.
The initial pace of the screenplay is slow and plodding. But this is intentional. It gives us a feel for the dreariness of a common cowboy's bleak life in the late 19th Century. Later the pace picks up.
Charlton Heston is convincing as a tired, aging, wrangler who really doesn't have much to show for his life. Joan Hackett is just plain enough looking to be real but attractive enough to become the love interest. A great actress, she passed away prematurely.
Donald Pleasence and Bruce Dern are frighteningly convincing as a homicidal religious zealot and his psychopathic son. They personify the cults of violent people that occupy the back recesses of society and only come out to work evil on the rest of us. These two are very scary.
Heston and Hackett's love is believable and so is the gun play. Yet there is no gratuitous sex or violence.
Will Penny is well produced and thoroughly entertaining.
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