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.
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
Charlton Heston said of this movie's director Tom Gries in his 1995 autobiography 'In the Arena: An Autobiography': Gries was "a gifted, mercurial, oddly unpredictable and somewhat childlike man...[Gries was not]...a good captain, which a great director must be...[but with]...the right material [Gries excelled]". 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 »
[Blue has just taken a shot of Catron's moonshine]
How's she taste?
Danged if I know... sure burns a dollar's worth...
See more »
The tough, lonely life of the cattle drover (as it really was) is briefly related in the ideal opening scene of Tom Gries' "Will Penny" with an aching Charlton Heston compelled, at the end of an exhausting cattle drive, to take a humble winter job in the cold bleak hillside... His turbulent, crude, oppressive - virtually celibate existence - is marvelously exposed by Gries...
Heston portrays with honesty and sensitivity, a middle-aged cowhand "free and easy" who ignores everything about farming... He is a lonely rider who takes his bath eight or nine times a year, and mends his own clothes... He is a "good steady hand" concerned for Mrs. Allen and her son but "bad scared before, and bad sorry after." He is also a helpless man with uncertain future, a sincere cowboy extremely sensitive...
"Will Penny" is an extraordinary film... Not only does it feature Heston's most sincere and sensitive performance, it has a fine supporting cast and is one of the most adult Western scripts ever written...
Joan Hackett portrays Mrs. Allen with strength and dignity, never collapsing beneath the strain of her tribulations...
Donald Pleasance is the most dastardly villain to grace the screen in many long years... He is mean, unkind, and slightly insane... Bruce Dern is equally effective as one of his sons, the psychotic who "handles a knife just fine."
Realistically spared, "Will Penny" is a straightforward and honest film, a sincere attempt to recreate the Old West, and, more important, the "mighty good men" who lived therein...
63 of 77 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?