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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
If any western that I have seen feels authentic to the old west it is "Will Penny". The Inyo County, California locations are wonderful and the cowboys at work scenes are refreshingly honest.
The basic storyline serves as a template to work more on character development and the cast (full of western stalwarts) do not disappoint.
Charlton Heston as Will Penny is on great form as the vulnerable, middle aged man of the plains. He is a little backward but unfailingly truthful and decent. He and his friends "Blue" and "Dutchy" represent the best principles of old west comradeship and his approach to Mrs Allen and her son "H.G" shows with tenderness what he has craved to have all his life but knows it is too late to embrace.
I found Donald Pleasence a bit over the top as the evil "Preacher Quint", but his portrayal is entertaining if nothing else. Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens and Lee majors all do a good job in support and Joan Hackett is completely convincing as the lone mother in search of a better life.
Very much a film for those viewers who like to experience, feel and be touched by a well written story and its characters.
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