In 1864, due to frequent Apache raids from Mexico into the U.S., 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.
Double-crossed and left without water in the desert, Cable Hogue is saved when he finds a spring. It is in just the right spot for a much needed rest stop on the local stagecoach line, and Hogue uses this to his advantage. He builds a house and makes money off the stagecoach passengers. Hildy, a sex worker from the nearest town, moves in with him. Hogue has everything going his way until the advent of the automobile ends the era of the stagecoach. Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I didn't even know this was a Sam Peckinpah movie when I watched it. It has been programmed regularly on Cable TV here in the UK, and I idly switched over to it one Sunday evening. Cowboy movies in 2012? You must be joking! However, I was sufficiently hooked to watch this guy left for dead in the desert. It looks like Jason Robards, so it has to have something going for it. He finds a muddy puddle in the desert. OK, a cliché about this guy building up a prosperous business from scratch. Well, not quite. The clichés never happen. Instead the dialogue is interesting, poetic, never predictable. The character of Cable Hogue has depth and empathy. David Warner hoves into view as a disreputable preacher, dressed in black and thin as a gutter. In the nearest town we meet the hooker, played beautifully by the delectable Stella Stevens. OK, there are elements of slapstick which never quite work, but you feel the movie has something beyond the conventional western. When I discovered it was by Peckinpah, I immediately thought - yes, this is the work of a great director. Not a full-blown symphony, perhaps a string quartet (though by all accounts it cost enough to make). It leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction, tinged with melancholy. That coyote at the end has a collar - perhaps a symbol of the taming of the wilderness.
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