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The Ballad of Cable Hogue More at IMDbPro »

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Tomorrow Is The Song I Sing

Author: ALauff from Chicago
15 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jason Robards is pitch-perfect as the title character, a grizzled throwback to a bygone era. In the opening scene, his comrades leave him for dead in the desert, absconding with his only canteen. This landscape of cactus and sand becomes a forsaken character that Hogue develops an odd kinship with—crawling on his belly on the fourth day, he discovers a wellspring through a combination of dumb luck and divine providence (I'm not sure if there's a difference in Peckinpah's world) after resigning himself to the Lord's will ("Take me Lord. I'm done."). In what will become an endearing Hogue standard, he brushes aside four days of hell, and brags to the heavens: "I did it! Me…Hogue…"

Peckinpah's comic Western is a surprisingly moving eulogy to the fading West of old, whose badge of honor is worn by the title character, a walking anachronism whose base, day-to-day self-preservation is in fierce conflict with a newfound sophistication granted by new modes of transportation and the construction of the town as an epicenter of commerce. Poor Hogue's time has hopelessly passed; we see how out of touch he is when he rides into town to register a claim for his two-acre would-be oasis. The final moments suggest the impossibility of rustic living, as the film mourns the passing of a certain kind of self-dependence. By contrast, this new order, by imposing tyrannies of interdependence and civility, puts an ironic strain on the formerly dignified (if not harmonious) relations between men. Because men are primitive and dissolute by nature, Peckinpah might as well cry, one can only discredit these inclinations by prettifying them and pretending they don't exist.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Butterfly mornin's, and wild flower afternoons.

Author: Scott LeBrun (Hey_Sweden) from Canada
17 September 2015

Extremely appealing fable from the celebrated director Sam Peckinpah, who works from an often poetic script by Edmund Penny and actor John Crawford. Here he and a very fine cast create some endearing characters worth getting to know. He also revisits the theme of the changing times in the American West (the story is set in 1908, and our characters marvel at the sight of a car). It crosses genres with ease - Western, drama, comedy - and even at 122 minutes, never feels padded out.

Jason Robards is excellent as the title character, betrayed by his lowlife associates, Bowen (Strother Martin), and Taggart (L.Q. Jones), and left to wander the desert on his own. Cable crosses the desert for days, almost certain to perish due to lack of water. Then, by miracle, Cable discovers an underground well of water. He travels to the nearest town to use his very meager funds to buy two acres in the area, and crafts what turns out to be a thriving way station in this desert wilderness. He also makes the acquaintance of wistful prostitute Hildy (Stella Stevens) and lustful preacher Joshua (David Warner).

Robards's compelling performance anchors this saga, as Cable courts the vague hope that someday Bowen and Taggart will stop by his place for water and he can get some revenge. The gorgeous Stevens - who does some rather tasteful nudity for the picture - flourishes in one of her best ever roles as Hildy, too, yearns for something more out of life. Warner supplies quite a bit of lecherous comedy relief, as he can't help helping himself to the ladies. This solid assemblage of actors also includes Slim Pickens, Peter Whitney, R.G. Armstrong, Gene Evans, Kathleen Freeman, and Vaughn Taylor.

Lovely, sun baked photography and a lush score by Jerry Goldsmith are other positive attributes to this poignant film, considered by some to be one of Peckinpahs' finest efforts.

Eight out of 10.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

One of Peckinpah's best

Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
6 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sam Peckinpah is mostly known for "The Wild Bunch", but his smaller pictures tend to be better, more personal.

"The Ballad of Cable Hogue", which Peckinpah regarded as both a personal favourite and the most autobiographical of his films, is a 1970 Western which stars Jason Robards as Cable Hogue, a bearded prospector who sets up a stagecoach station at a watering hole out in the desert. Traffic through these parts will be high, Hogue reckons, and so sooner or later Taggart and Bowen are likely to turn up as customers. Taggart and Bowen being the two men who abandoned Hogue to die out in a desert three years earlier. Hogue wants revenge. Taggart and Bowen, of course, do eventually show up.

But the film is uninterested in violence, vengeance, and the genre's usual assortments of gun-play, money grubbing and double-crossing. Instead, Peckinpah turns the film into something more unconventional. Though it's primarily a comedy – Peckinpah's trademark slow-motion bloodbaths become fast, sped up comedy routines – the film is also very moody, lyrical and romantic. Peckinpah's more concerned with lingering on Robard's tired, bearded face, the loving glint in Cable's eyes and the charming way this rough and tumble mountain-man does his best to act gentlemanly and proper around a local hooker called Hildy. She's "the ladiest lady" his eyes have ever laid upon, you see.

Contrasted with the chivalrous Hogue is a character called Joshua (brilliantly played by David Warner), a sex obsessed preacher who uses Christ and Bible as an excuse to get close to any woman he can. The film's dialogue is great – Robards, always a likable actor, has some endearing moments – but it's Warner who gets the best lines. Whenever he's on screen he's waxing poetic about female body parts, or finding some way to twist Biblical prose into pornography.

Peckinpah was always a Romantic. His heroes are all misunderstood outcasts, wounded macho-idealists who flee hell only to end up in worse hell holes. Without hope or future his heroes are content with what little time and pleasures they have left, the latter often amounting to nothing more than some nickle, land, or a fine lady at their sides to help lick their wounds. These women tend to be hookers and whores, not because Peckinpah's a pervert or misogynist, but because, like Van Gogh, he and his heroes identify with the beaten and downtrodden.

Peckinpah called "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" his most autobiographical film. There are no drugs or heavy boozers here (Peckinpah was a notorious alcoholic and addict), but Cable does echo Peckinpah's life in other ways. He abandons the towns and cities, moves off into the wilderness, finds some land for himself, becomes a ragged pauper king and then muses about his legacy before dying. "Was I a violent man or a kind man?" Hogue broods, "a killer or a lover?"

Peckinpah, of course, grew up on ranches, was virtually kicked out of Hollywood, made a home in the scrublands of Mexico, had a temperament that bounced from violent king to kind, quiet artist, became worried about his films' portrayal of violence, then found himself resorting to dumb, impersonal action thrillers to keep his career alive. He sees the best and worst of himself in Houge.

Regardless, "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" is Peckinpah's gentlest, most introspective film. Like "Two Mules For Sister Sarah", a western released the same year by Peckinpah's mentor, Don Siegel, it's also unashamedly offbeat and free-spirited. If the film treads wrong, it's in an overly literal climax, in which an automobile runs over Hogue, mechanisation and the "new", "civilized" world literally heralding the death of the cowboy. This tired cliché and banal observation is found in virtually every post "Liberty Valance" western.

8/10 – Worth one viewing. Some more excellent, unconventional westerns from this period: "Bad Company", "The Beguiled", "Two Mules For Sister Sarah", "The Long Riders", "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid", "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean", "Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson", "The Shootist" etc.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great Film, Jason Robards Is A Treasure

Author: FightingWesterner from The Lonesome Prairie
21 April 2010

Jason Robards gives one of the best performances of his career as Cable Hogue, an iconoclast, desert rat, and shrewd opportunist, who sees his chance to prosper and takes it when he stumbles across a mudhole in the desert and turns it into a profitable oasis.

Robards gets great support from all around him, especially David Warner as a lecherous preacher that becomes a kind of sidekick to Hogue and Stella Stevens as the girl Cable lusts after, but can't quite hold on to.

Entertaining, fun, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes quite poignant, The Ballad Of Cable Hogue further elaborates on the central themes in previous as well as subsequent Peckinpah westerns, of changing times in the west at the turn of the century. It's a character study, with the Hogue himself symbolizing the life and death of the old west.

Peckinpah's favorite of his films, it appears (at least to me) he tried to replicate the feel of this three years later, in Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, with mixed results.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A lovely and touching seriocomic Western gem

Author: Woodyanders ( from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
21 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

1908. Scraggly frontiersman Cable Hogue (beautifully played by Jason Robards) gets left in the fierce Arizona desert to die by his treacherous no-count partners Bowen (the always excellent Strother Martin) and Taggart (a splendidly nasty L.Q. Jones). Hogue discovers water in the middle of nowhere and starts his own business running a rest stop located on a well-traveled road. Director Sam Peckinpah, working from a quirky and colorful script by John Crawford and Edmund Penney, expertly crafts a winning blend of earthy humor and gentle lyricism with this funny, moving and thoughtful fable on redemption, second chances, and the last dying days of the wild'n'woolly Old West. Stella Stevens shines in one of her best-ever roles as Hildy, the brassy and beautiful whore Hogue falls in love with. Moreover, there are equally terrific supporting performances by David Warner as friendly, but lecherous itinerant preacher Joshua, Slim Pickens as amiable coachman Ben Fairchild, R.G. Armstrong as irascible banker Quittner, Peter Whitney as helpful benefactor Cushing, and Gene Evans as surly brute Clete. The sequence with Stevens and Robards singing the sweet duet "Butterfly Morning" rates as a definite delightful highlight. Lucien Ballard's lush, picturesque cinematography makes inspired occasional use of artful fades, dissolves and split screen. Extra props are in order for Jerry Goldsmith's folksy, flavorsome score and the catchy soundtrack of tuneful'n'twangy songs. A real treat.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

"Appears to me you've been seventeen kinds of a damn fool..."

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
25 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Movie fans who recall Sam Peckinpah as a writer and director of violent Westerns will see something quite different in "The Ballad of Cable Hogue". The film, much like "The Wild Bunch" and "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid", makes a statement about the passing of the Old West, a favorite Peckinpah theme. Of the three, it's the one with the least amount of blood letting and the most humor and as it turns out, was cited by Peckinpah as his personal favorite.

I find myself in the middle on this picture, entertaining enough in it's way, but often times it seemed the story was rambling aimlessly in search of a real plot. Then, every time the director attempted some novelty, like the winking currency or the Keystone Cop run around, I was left a little perplexed regarding the integrity of the story. Actually, it seemed like one of the director's preoccupations here was with outright titillation, with the camera fondly zooming in on Stella Stevens' substantial assets, along with those close-ups of her strategically placed name badge. The presence of David Warner's preacher character only added to that perception, he of the Church of the Wayfaring Stranger. At least he was right out there with his unbridled lust, but it seemed just a little too convenient that Mrs. Jensen agreed to such comfort in her time of grief.

One thing I CAN say with some confidence is that this is probably the finest performance I've seen by Jason Robards. He takes the viewer through a fairly wide range of characterizations and emotions quite effectively. I would like to know though how he managed to get through the scene while washing Hildy's (Stevens) back; on screen it looked like he was in complete control.

Anyway, this won't make my list of favorite Westerns, or even favorite films by Peckinpah. I guess it has it's place, but given all the diverse elements in the story, one might ask why the director didn't go all out for genuine spaghetti.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

an uncommonly sweet film from Peckinpah; can't wait to see it again!

Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
31 December 2007

The Ballad of Cable Hogue isn't exactly a "light" offering from Peckinpah, but then again what would be? This is however not something almost unthinkable at the time like the Wild Bunch. If anything, after that film, Peckinpah decided to go onto something that would let him focus even more on just character, and on a story that took another look at the old west (while, also, looking at the changing-of-the-tide sort of theme from the previous picture). Robards is terrific, and very funny, as the drifter who makes a buck after building up a way-station in the middle of the desert. Cable Hogue is a man of ideals that are just grand enough for him, as he stumbles upon a luck of a spring in the ground and makes it his own.

Robards often has the good memory of his career of that as a character actor mostly, with memorable parts in Once Upon a Time in the West, All the Presidents Men, and lastly in Magnolia, among many many others. Here, in one of his leading roles, he gives full life to this character, and under Peckinpah's direction he's a man who's a little too complex to peg as just one thing with women, or one thing in dealing with a gunslinger or a prospector, and gives him a feature of respectability, or at least some interest, even when Hogue should be at his worst.

Despite some of the darker undertones that come up from time to time, it might be Peckinpah's sweetest film, where a prostitute with a heart-of-gold like Hildy (amusing Stella Stevens) works just right, and the music by Jerry Goldsmith matches the mood every step of the way, notably in that opening scene with Hogue stumbling about and going into freeze-frame. Sometimes the humor even gets a little dirty (how about that panty shot!), but it doesn't ring untrue.

In one of the few times in Peckinpah's career where the producers knew well enough to let him alone to make his movie, The Ballad of Cable Hogue turned out as one of his better films, a testament to one of his pet subjects without the notorious angle of violence with it.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Interesting, entertaining and inspiring interpretation

Author: Frank-87 from Freiburg
20 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The chauffeur of the car that runs over Hogue a moment later is filling water (watle) into the radiator. This happens incidentally and can easily be missed by the viewer as it seems to be missed by Hogue himself. I think Peckinpah hasn't made the chauffeur fill watle into the radiator without a purpose within the context of the film. In fact I think there is a major plot-point there: The future belongs to cars and the times of horses as a means of transportation are over, Hogue is rooted in the old times and the car symbolically runs over him; if that is what the movie "means", then Hogue fails to notice that cars do need watle (Hogue's misspelling of "water"), too.

In the long run Hogue could have turned his station with the well into a gas-station, providing gas, watle (for both people and radiators) and food. There was absolutely no need for Hogue to let himself be "run over" by the changing times. In fact I'm still trying to figure out a possible interpretation why Hogue gave himself up so fatalistically in the end. When he was left out in the desert in the beginning of the movie he was talking to god, fighting the elements and hanging on to his life with a very strong will. After the car ran over him he just died with a smile on his face. Is that a change of character?

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

An enterprising desert rascal

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
24 February 2007

It can be argued that Jason Robards gave his career screen performance in the title role of in The Ballad of Cable Hogue. Borrowing heavily from Lee Marvin's Kid Shalleen from Cat Ballou, Robards is one desert rascal who turns a crisis into a moneymaker.

Old time prospector Cable Hogue is deserted and left to die on the desert by his two partners, Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones. Ready to cash it in, he happens on some water, the only water in a desert between two Nevada towns. With only 35 cents to his name, he takes a claim on the two acres where that spring is and through some wit and rascally charm he gets the stagecoach line to open up a station right there.

In the list of Sam Peckinpah's screen credits this is the only comedy in the bunch and I'm surprised he didn't do more. None of those slow motion hymns to violence are in this film, but Peckinpah does show a good sense of comedy which given the type of stuff he normally did you wouldn't think he would have.

Of course the other half of the credit for The Ballad of Cable Hogue belongs to Jason Robards and the droll performance he delivers. Cable Hogue is a man who's got a good sense of himself and ain't easily trifled with.

Stella Stevens is good as the tart where her heart ought to be. And such Peckinpah regulars as Slim Pickens and R.G. Armstrong round out a very capable supporting cast.

For unusual taste of Peckinpah, you really ought to see The Ballad of Cable Hogue.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

don't overlook this wonderful film!

Author: dav07dan02 from spokane, usa
1 April 2006

Director: Sam Peckinpah, Script: John Crawford, Edmund Penney, Cast: Jason Roberts (Cable Hogue), Stella Stevens (Hildy), David Warner (Rev. Josua Douglas Sloan)

I don't know. For some reason this movie seems to be all but forgotten. Maybee because it came between The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett and Bily the Kid. I actually like it better than Pat Garrett and it is just as good as the Wild Bunch in its own way. Jason Robards in his greatest performance plays Cable Hogue. Poor old cable gets double crossed by his comrades. They rob him and leave him for dead in the desert. Well not only does old Cable survive but he finds water in the desert that not only helps him survive but also makes him rich! He turns this land into a stopping point for stagecoach travelers. In the nearby town, he meets Hidy(Stella Stevens), the town hooker and they become lovers. One day a couple of travelers stop by for a drink. Guess who?! Like in most Peckinpah movies the western frontier is being replaced by modern civilization. He realizes his days are through when one day a strange stagecoach comes to his place. This stagecoach can move by itself!

I just love Jason Roberts in this. This film is different from any other I have seen from Penkinpah. It was released after the Wild Bunch and just before Straw Dogs and what a different film it is! This film is very funny! I love the scene with the reverend trying to 'councel' a young women when she thinks her husband is dead. It is one of many funny moments. Unlike his other films of this time, this one has very little violence but it does have nudity. Even when he is not showing the beautiful Miss Stevens in the nude he is focusing on her chest. One sees this in several scenes. Well physical attributes aside she was great in this as well. She is actually treated better then most of the females in his films! Peckinpah had so many good westerns that it is hard to say what his best one is. I really enjoy this movie. I might add that I sold my Scream collection box set to get the Sam Pechinpah collection. I actually like the Scream movies but I do not regret the trade! Get the Sam Peckinpah collection as soon as you can!

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