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 <email@example.com>
Fresh off his triumphant "The Wild Bunch" and just before his astounding "Straw Dogs," Sam Peckipah made this "little picture," that flopped. However, while "The Wild Bunch" and "Straw Dogs" are terrific movies, "Ballad of Cable Hogue" is the most accomplished of the three. It certainly is hard to categorize "...Hogue," thematically. It includes strong elements of the following genres: o Violent western o Slapstick comedy o Sophisticated comedy o Romantic comedy o Love story o Social commentary o Spiritual film
With the exception of the rather silly slapstick, director Sam Peckinpah handles all these elements superbly, particularly the social commentary, spiritual elements and love story. Much credit is due to a fine cast, particularly actress Stella Stevens and actor David Warner, who both deserved Oscar nominations. Stevens, as the prostitute, "Hildy," mines the "...heart of gold" and hits the mother lode. Hers is one of the all time great performances by an actress. Warner's manipulative preacher, "Josh," manages to be alternately witty, lecherous, noble and profound, without missing a beat.
The best I can say about Jason Robards as "Cable" is, if you loved his character, "Cheyenne" from "Once Upon a Time in the West," you love his "Cable Hogue."
Don't read the plot of this movie. Go in as I did in 1970, not knowing what to expect. You'll be amused, touched, aroused (particularly if your a male) and saddened. It's all here. How many films can you say that about?
I give "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" a "10."
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