Classic comedic western, Captain Oren Hayes of the Texas Rangers takes a break to visit his daughter in a neighboring town. When he arrives he find's his daughter Hannah's husband Jeff is running for Mayor against a corrupt town boss, Nard Lundy. Lundy has no intention of allowing the free election of the honest Jeff Rose, so he has his henchmen beat them up. Hayes then calls for the help of some his old buddies in the Rangers. Upon arriving in town, they realize quickly that age has caught up with them and they must rely on their sheer wits to out-smart and defeat Lundy. Written by
A cast of grizzled veterans make this film a joy to watch, if you can get over the script, which falls weak in the midst of skillful actors. Still, 'The Over The Hill Gang' was well-casted by virtue of the fact that virtually all the stars were veterans of Westerns, and played their roles admirably.
This movie is your typical victory for old folks. A band of retired Texas Rangers (the Law Enforcement Rangers, not the baseball team) are called into action by their old boss, Captain Oren Hayes (Pat O'Brien) after dubious town officials rough up his son (Ricky Nelson) and trash his newspaper business. When these three Rangers arrive in town to save the day, slow and well past their prime, they team up against a more powerful and energetic foe. Despite being out-numbered and out-hustled, TOTHG proves that (at least on TV) brains can win over brawn any time, and is always a crowd pleaser. If anything, it is a good family movie that teaches the values of courage in the face of adversity, and that good can overcome evil, no matter how young that evil is.
If you'll notice, you will see some great individual performances. Chill Wills plays a boozing, poker-cheating Texan better than anyone. His facial expressions and his Texas drawl are a delight. Without a doubt, Edgar Buchannon had to be the best semi-blind man with a gun in Hollywood history. Andy Devine, playing a 'bad guy,' didn't even need a good script to be funny. Devine could read the Gettysburg Address and make even the most cantankerous cuss chuckle. And what else can you say about Walter Brennan? Like Chill Wills, Brennan is synonymous with Westerns, and proved that even when he played a straight-man, his part of the script didn't allow him to be so much funny as it did to make you feel good because he was just one of those 'good guys.' Still, it was Gypsy Rose Lee, playing a 'has been' show girl, who turned in the best acting performance.
At the conclusion, the three Texas Rangers, who had not seen each other for many years until their reunion, split up and guided their mounts in different directions for the ride back home. Not knowing when they would 'ride again,' I must admit to shedding a tear or two as those three friends rode into the sunset. The soulful harmonica music completed the emotional scene.
'The Over The Hill Gang' is a fun movie to watch. You won't find Oscar winning performances or dazzling special effects. But you'll feel good when it is over. And that's what it is all about, right?
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