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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."
"The Ballad of Cable Hogue", when first released in 1970, may have caught
the viewing public asleep. But, over the years, people have seen this film
for what it truly is--a tribute by director Sam Peckinpah to the passing
away of the old west, and a brilliant performance turned in by Jason Robards
as a desert hobo who finally awakens to his need for touching base with the
human race, ever so often.
Cable is left out in the desert by two comrades, Bowen and Taggart, to make his own way, or perish trying, as they head back to civilization. Hogue vows to catch up to them, but first, he has to find water, which he does, then establish a business for the stage line, which he is able to do, and show a profit. All this happens, and after several years of waiting, the two former friends do happen onto his way station, and a touch of revenge is extracted by Cable upon the two who left him in the desert.
This film has some remarkable elements; a great supporting cast led by Stella Stevens, playing Hildy, David Warner portrays a lecherous preacher who becomes Hogue's partner in the desert, and Strother Martin and L. Q. Jones add the touch of villiany this film needed. Also, the musical background will stay with the viewer long after the final credits have rolled. This movie is a fantastic portrayal of the fading era of the west, and Peckinpah left the public with a classic. 9/10, easily.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sam Peckinpah's "The Ballad of Cable Hogue," although still very much
concerned with the sere and yellow, offers light, or, at least, lighter
Thirst does very much play a part in his history at the outset . Robbed and abandoned by his partners (Strother Martin and L. O. Jones) in the desert, Jason Robards is saved from certain death by finding water from a spring And out of this discovery comes a sort of success story
The spring is handy to the stagecoach route and so, assisted by a banker in the nearby of an unexciting town (Deaddog is the indicative name), he sets up a 'halt' on the trail In Deaddog he also chums up with the local whore (Stella Stevens). And always aiding and encouraging him is a mischievous preacher (David Warner) who is ever willing and able to give more than spiritual comfort to the female members of his flock
The old fellow's project prospers; the sympathetic prostitute pays him a fleeting but rewarding visit; he eventually gets revenge on one of the partners who left him to die And the happiest ending seems to purr into view in the form of a splendid car carrying the good-time gal who has finally decided to settle down with him
Allegory? Or straight romantic comedy? One is never sure but it's a warm and vivid film with a distinctive flavor that teases the sense of taste Whether the style is peak Peckinpah is another matter
I saw The Ballad of Cable Hogue while stationed in Virginia. I am not a huge fan of westerns, but this movie is one of the finest movies I have ever seen. The music itself makes the movie endearing and the characters and what they do makes the movie interesting from the start. It's a story of revenge, but there's no shoot 'em up heroics and bloody corpses lying around. Cable bides his time. What happens during this time is hilarious and the preacher is Cable's best friend. The ending is a twist that left me stunned and speechless. I won't say what happened cause there may be someone out there that has not seen the movie yet, but I highly recommend this movie. It is pure enjoyment and I am hoping that it is re-released in DVD with Dolby stereo enhancement, cause the music at the beginning is very moving. You will be humming that tune for the rest of your life. Thank you for reading my input. I would appreciate an email if the movie will be out on DVD someday.
Cable Hogue (Jason Robards) is left in the desert without any water.After a
few days he finds a springs with lots of water.
He offers some water to the stagecoach passengers for money.
Until the automobiles take over.He becomes a friend with a preacher Joshua
Sloane (David Warner).In the nearest town lives a whore called Hildy (Stella
Stevens) who becomes Cable's lover and later they move together.Sam
Peckinpah directed a terrific western comedy in 1970-one year after he
directed The Wild Bunch.Some people may not like it so much because it isn't
as violent as The Wild Bunch but I don't mind, I don't mind at
The casting in the movie is brilliant.Jason Robards was a perfect man to
play Cable Hogue.The movie has many memorable scenes.The Ballad of Cable
Hogue left a good taste in my mouth-
and I still haven't got it out.
When people mention Sam Peckinpah, the film most mentioned is The Wild
Bunch. While I'm a big fan of that very violent film, I find out that most
people don't even know about The Ballad Of Cable Houge, which I feel is his
The film is about a would be prospector named Cable Houge (Jason Robards in his best performance and that's saying a lot), who is left to die out in the desert with no water by his too partners (Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones). After almost dying out in the desert Cable actually finds water. He then buys the land and makes it a stop in the desert for stagecoaches to stop and refresh the horses. He becomes friends to a traveling and lecherous preacher (well played by David Warner) and a sweet prostitute, Hilly (played by the sweet faced Stella Stevens). But what Cable is mainly doing is lying in wait for the time that he runs into his former partners again.
It's a simple fable told with very little violence, and it's well told. It's definitely not the film that you would expect from the man who made the Wild Bunch. Warner Bros. who released it didn't know what to do with it and just threw out at the public with very little publicity, and the film never go the attention that it should have. Hopefully future film scholars with rediscover this gem and lift it from obscurity.
If you think Sam Peckinpah only made violent films, you owe it to yourself to rent this from your video store. A lovely, lyrical, and emotionally satisfying fable about the last western hero, trying to scratch out an existence as he watches his era pass him by. Wonderful performances by Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, and David Warner; an entertaining script; all directed with a light and subtle touch - for a change - by Sam Peckinpah. Although I am a great fan of the Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, and Major Dundee, Cable Hogue is in my opinion Peckinpah's masterpiece.
The Ballad Of Cable Hogue sees Sam Peckinpah in jolly form. There is
nothing here to trouble the censors, a bit of violence here and there -
and some nasty human traits seam through the story, but this is purely
a funny and touching movie that again deals with a Peckinpah fave theme
of the Old West passing. Only difference is here he has his tongue
firmly in cheek as he observes the thirst for finance sweeping across
Cable Hogue is a prospector left for dead in the desert by his two double-crossing partners Bowen & Taggart. Wandering across the desert talking to god, Hogue collapses during a sandstorm and finds mud on his boot, after digging down for a while he finds the miracle of water (though Hogue badly misspells this on his advertisement). An encounter with preacher Joshua convinces Hogue to go patent his spring and make a killing selling water to the passing stagecoach trail that runs by his newly found oasis. After striking a deal in the town of Dead Dog, Hogue is set up nicely while into the bargain he falls for gorgeous prostitute Hildy. The film cheekily (just like Hogue) has established itself as a fine piece by the time it takes it's dark turn. It seems that revenge is the new found recipe on the Cable Springs Menu.
This was Sam Peckinpah's favourite film from his own CV, it's his most personal, he apparently saw a lot of himself in Cable Hogue, and with that in mind the film does gain a bit more emotional heart. But strikingly, it's the humour in there that shouldn't be understated, this was the director at one with himself, and the result is lyrical deftness. The cast are great, Jason Robards is wonderful in the title role, Stella Stevens as Hildy shows a fine actress at work. So much so it only makes me lament that she didn't have a great and industrious career post Cable Hogue. Peckinpah faves Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones & Slim Pickens reward their loyal director with impacting shows, while David Warner as the confused preacher Joshua practically steals the film with his hedonistic leanings.
Don't go into this film expecting a blood and thunder Western and you will be pleasantly surprised at it's heartbeat. Different sort of Peckinpah, but it's also essential Peckinpah. 9/10
The beginning of this movie is very much like the 40 years in the wilderness experienced by the Jewish People and recorded in the Old Testament. A vicious cycle of dependence, repentance, and rebellion. The movie carries a heavy theme about the attitude of religion of the times and today. The most godly people of the film are Cable and Hilde. The scene between Cable and the Banker is one of most powerful scenes in the movie. The music and songs are very appropriate and memorable. I have been singing "Butterfly Morning" for over 30 years. My children love the movie and watch it all them time. I used it in a class I taught on the History of Religion at the college level. The movie examines religious values, hypocrisy and piety in a very interesting way. This is by far one of the best films ever made. A timeless classic. Everyone should see this movie.
Jason Robards plays the hard-bitten and oft-bemused title character, Cable
Hogue who somehow survives the ordeal of being left to die in the desert
with no water by his partners, perfectly portrayed by the incomparable
L.Q.(A Boy and His Dog) Jones and Strother Martin.
He travels from town to town with unscrupulous preacher David Warner, met in turn by some of Hollywood's classic Western supporting actors, such as R. G. Armstrong, Slim Pickens, Kathleen Freeman, and Gene Evans. Stella Stevens does a good job with the thankless obligatory role as the prostitute-with-the-heart-of-gold. All this helps lighten the mostly bemused, occasionally amused, but always revenge-dream-filled and heavy presence of Jason Robards. Eventually, Cable gets his chance at what he's been waiting for, and...
Now, you have even more incentive to go see the film - Peckinpaugh's most underrated western. 10/10
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