In 1864, due to frequent Apache raids from Mexico into the US, a Union officer decides to illegally cross the border and destroy the Apache, using a mixed army of Union troops, Confederate POWs, civilian mercenaries and scouts.
In the early 20th century, some convicts while on a road gang escape and one of the convicts is Zach Provo, a half Indian, who was sent to prison during the latter part of the 19th century.... See full summary »
Andrew V. McLaglen
Will Penny, an aging cowpoke, takes a "line-rider" job on a vast cattle ranch requiring him to keep trespassers and squatters moving till they're off the property. Ironically, he discovers that the mountain cabin reserved for the line rider has been appropriated by Catherine Allen and her young son, Horace, whose guide has deserted them en route to Oregon to join Catherine's husband. Too soft-hearted and ashamed to kick mother and child out just as the bitter Rocky Mountains winter sets in, he agrees to share the cabin until the spring thaw. But it isn't just the snow that slowly thaws; lonely man and woman soon forget their considerable dissimilarities and start developing a deep, if awkward and unstated, love for each another. Beyond this, Horace finds in Will the father he's never known, and Will finds in Horace the son he's never known he's wanted. The trio's little refuge is then invaded by Bible-quoting Preacher Quint and his murderous family of "rawhiders," who'd earlier nearly... Written by
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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