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
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 »
I knew'd a fellow once, his wagon team got away with him and run a wheel spoke right through his middle. Bled hisself out, right there. Don't you know how easy it was? It was like taking a little sleep under a shady tree, didn't hurt none at all. He just got kind of drowsy, and he just, well, he just dozed off. Well, sir, it ain't gonna be that easy for you. No, sir, not that easy.
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One of the best westerns I've ever seen. 'Will Penny' is a movie crying out to be rediscovered!
Peckinpah's flamboyant 'The Wild Bunch' and Leone's innovative spaghetti westerns of the 1960s are among my all time favourites, but the stir they created overshadowed some gems that are now unfairly overlooked - Brando's 'One-Eyed Jacks', and Monte Hellman's 'Ride In The Whirlwind' and 'The Shooting' immediately spring to mind. Those three movies all have strong cult followings (just ask Quentin Tarantino!), but for some reason the same can't be said for 'Will Penny'. I don't know why, as it's one of the best westerns I've ever seen. Charlton Heston is of course, a MOVIE STAR and also a controversial figure because of his politics, but sometimes people seem to forget that he could be a damn fine actor when he tried. I think 'Will Penny' is his best performance. Heston plays a low key character, an aging cowboy who is tired of his life but believes it is all he can do. Maybe this is the main reason why 'Will Penny' has been forgotten. He's basically a decent guy, not a larger than life John Wayne hero, or a Clint Eastwood anti-hero. Heston regards Tom Gries' script as one of the finest he's ever read, and I must agree with him. Gries was a TV veteran but this was his big break as a motion picture director. Despite the talent he showed he never became a name director, though he worked steadily until his death in the mid-70s, and was responsible for a few well known films including the Manson movie 'Helter Skelter'. Heston is surrounded by an impeccable supporting cast. His two buddies are played by a young Lee Majors and Anthony Zerbe ('Cool Hand Luke', 'The Omega Man'). Joan Hackett is very good as the woman squatter Penny befriends (her on screen son is played by Tom Gries real life son, who is also excellent). Donald Pleasence is fantastic fun as a crazed preacher, and he and his eldest son (played by Bruce Dern, one of my all time favourite actors) make terrific villains (Dern is always a terrific villain!). Western legends Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens play a ranch foreman and a cook respectively, and then there's character actors galore - G.D. Spradlin, Clifton James, William Schallert, Luke Askew, Matt Clark, Roy Jenson. Off the top of my head, it's difficult to think of a 1960s western with a more impressive cast. 'Will Penny' is a movie crying out to be rediscovered! I highly recommend it to western fans.
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