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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.
A Peckinpah fable about the American dream. There's an ambiguity here,
as the film rather admires Hogue's crusty determination to succeed in
his Enterprise, yet built into the film's structure is an admission
that the kind of pioneering Capitalist spirit epitomised by Hogue could
only exist in a very small historical window, a window which the spread
of "civilisation" and industrialisation soon closed. Personally, I
think Peckinpah rather romanticises Hogue - his misguided belief that
he "owns" the waterhole is his primary sin, not the fact that such
ownership by small businessmen is historically threatened.
The film is rather uneven in its pacing and style. There's a rather misguided attempt to bring in elements of quirky French New Wave cinema, which feel a bit forced and rather dated now. Not Peckinpah's best, but certainly rich and with plenty to think about in't.
*** 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?
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!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Cable Hogue gets waylaid in the desert but miraculously stumbles across
a hidden oasis right next to the stagecoach trail. He capitalises on
this good fortune by buying the land and setting up a travellers' rest
stop, and makes friends with Hildy, a hooker, and Joshua, a wandering
preacher. But a date with destiny lies ahead
One of the less well-known of Peckinpah's movies, this was the director's favourite. He mostly made two kinds of film; violent, antisocial rants (The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs) and much more mellow, romantic, philosophical pieces (Ride The High Country, Junior Bonner) and this one very definitely falls into the latter category - Cable is an old-time prospector who leads a thoughtful, solitary existence. He doesn't do wrong by anyone, but he looks out for number one just the same. He likes being with Hildy, but he doesn't want to spoil their friendship with ties and rules, much to her regret. He values simplicity and he goes where the wind blows him. Peckinpah's films are full of metaphors - when Cable gets run over by the newfangled motor car, modern times quite literally overcome him and pass him by. Robards is terrific in the lead, at a high point in his career (he made this, C'era Una Volta Il West and Johnny Got His Gun in three years), with great support from Stevens and Warner, and a quartet of Peckinpah's repertory group. Warner is pretty amazing as the libidinous minister without a parish - he was still in his twenties, and had never made a film in America before, but is humorous, commanding, poetic and devilish. Shot in Nevada and around the southwest, with elegant, gentle photography by Lucien Ballard and a jaunty early guitar score by Jerry Goldsmith, featuring some nice songs by Richard Gillis. Nicely written by John Crawford and Edmund Penney, two supporting actors (prolific, in Crawford's case) who don't appear in the movie and didn't write any other films. As with almost all of Peckinpah's work, the film was ignored by distributors. When Warner delivers Cable's eulogy, he could be speaking about Sam as well, "He wasn't really a good man. He wasn't a bad man. But Lord, he was a man !".
This movie was a low point for both Jason Robards and Sam Peckinpah. Major plot points are taken directly from Sergio Leone's masterpiece "Once Upon a Time in the West" (released two years earlier and also featuring Robards): A man finds a watering hole is found in the desert, being the only water for many miles in every direction, he plans to build a 'station' around the hole and to ensure there's a love interest, he falls in love with a prostitute. To this add an intemperate preacher, bad music, silly fast action shots, even sillier T&A shots - and there you go. There is little question why it failed at the box office. The real question is "how did it make it that far?".
I do not care much for "Westerns",
however, *this* one is an *exception*!
The first time I saw it on T.V., in
the wee hours of the morning *several*
years ago, I was immediately *hooked*!
I *knew* this just *had* to become a
classic, but it seems that none of my
local/expanded cable T.V Moguls agree
with me or any of us here commenting
in IMDb as I *rarely* see it listed---
"they" should *wake up*! I purchased
the video and can view it *anytime*
and I advise others to do the same as
"The Ballad of Cable Hogue" *is* a
classic and the most unique Western
to date! I'm very glad I purchased
the video of...
"The Ballad of Cable Hogue"!
Sam (David) Peckinpah should have won
an Oscar on this one too! I wonder if
he knew before he passed away how many
people thought that this was one of
his *best*, if not *the best* work(s)?
I hope so! Whoever did the Casting
should have won an Oscar too! The
*entire* cast was perfectly selected!
They all complemented each others
roles! "The Ballad of Cable Hogue"...
It's got it *all*!
Most people who have heard of Sam Peckinpah still probably think of him as "Bloody Sam," a gleeful sadist who love of violence inspired his films' slow-motion bloodbaths. This is unfair,because Peckinpah was much more than just an exploitation filmmaker, and it was no doubt in part to avoid being thought of in this way that he decided to film The Ballad of Cable Hogue. Like all filmmakers who create masterpieces, Peckinpah was faced with the question of what could possibly match The Wild Bunch, and so, no doubt wisely, he decided to bypass the question by making that film's complete antithesis. Cable Hogue is also a Western that shows the closing of the frontier, but it does so in a much more gentle fashion (which, granted, isn't saying too much) with barely any violence. Instead of an epic, here Peckinpah is trying to make a surreal allegory. So I can understand why Peckinpah would want to make a movie like Cable Hogue as a follow-up to The Wild Bunch, but I still can't completely understand exactly what he was trying to do in the movie itself. It gets off to a good start but bogs down in a tedious, inexplicable ending. Jason Robards appears in the title role, a man, played by Jason who is left to die in the desert by his partners, played by Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones, essentially reprising gentler versions of their scummy bounty-hunter in The Wild Bunch. Just as he is apparently about to die, Cable discovers water in the ground, and decided to stay there selling water to passing stagecoach passengers. Though Peckinpah's reputation was partly on his image as the anti-John Ford, in Cable Hogue he shows that in one respect he was the perfect artistic heir to Ford: in his handling of humor. Both directors, at ease with majestic landscapes and exciting action scenes, are almost completely lost when it comes to comedy. Peckinpah's attempts at raising laughs reminded me of The Simpsons episode where Homer gives Mel Gibson suggestions on how to "improve" his Mr. Smith Goes to Washington remake, including speeding up the motion in one scene: "Speeded-up motion is funny!" Homer must have also been creative consultant to Peckinpah when he was making this movie, because that's exactly his approach. Peckinpah was often criticized for his attitude towards women, and this flaw comes to the forefront in Cable Hogue with his handling of the character Hildy. Peckinpah tries to have it both ways by treating her as a sex object and a serious character. Because of this, I never believed in the supposedly deep feelings that Cable had for Hildie. The movie's most embarrassing sequence is a montage of Cable and Hildie's time together, supposedly showing us the deep feelings they have for each other, and all to the sound of an unbelievably saccharine song, "Butterfly Mornings (!)." I'd like to think that Peckinpah was forced to add this song by greedy studio execs, but from what I read about the film's production in a biography of the director, he was given complete creative control. Aside from misogyny and unfunny humor, the main reason for Cable Hogue is simply that the end is completely bizarre. Peckinpah was supposed to have been a big admirer of Fellini, and as strange as it sounds, he seems to be attempting his own version of Fellini in the closing scenes. Once again, automobiles are used as a symbol of the passing of the West and the beginning of the modern era. Hildy, who had left Cable to go to San Francisco and make her fortune, returns a wealthy widow driven by a chauffeur. Cable decides to leave his successful business in the desert and leave with Hildy, but before he can, he is unexpectedly run over. This should remind anyone familiar with Peckinpah of Angel being dragged behind a car at the end of The Wild Bunch, but here Peckinpah handles the scene in an offhand fashion, with Robard barely complaining of any pain. His subsequent death is obviously supposed to be more allegorical than realistic, but it just seems off. Instead of subsiding to an elegiac feeling, as was the case with The Wild Bunch, Cable Hogue just seems to sputter out. I'm sure if I would have appreciated the movie more if I had seen it on a restored letter-boxed DVD that I'm sure would have only provided more evidence of Peckinpah and cinematographer Lucien Ballard's flair for using majestic western landscapes. But I don't think that it would have solved this movie's main problems, which have to do with the basic tone and intention behind the story. If anything kept me interested, it wasn't the writing or the direction but Jason Robard's performance in the title role. Cable may be intended by Peckinpah to be a symbol, but Robard makes him into a believable, likable human being. He's the main reason to watch this deeply flawed film.
I was there folks! At the filming of The Ballad of Cable Hogue. They filmed at Apacheland Movie Ranch in Apache Jct, Az. Most of the crew and cast stayed at a place called The Velda Rose Restrurant and Motor Lodge. My mom worked at the Velda Rose as a waitress. She had waited on many stars of western film. She got invited to Apacheland to see it all being filmed. She took her 2 daughters (19 and 20) with her. It was exacting to see the old west brought to life.But it was dry and dusty and hot! Just like in the movie. To this day I have 2, 8 by 10 black and white photographs of Stella Stevens and Jason Robards taken on the set.And one of Jason Robards with a gentlman on his left, and one on his right that is either Slim Pickins or Sam Peckinpaw. Not sure which.(memory fades after 34 years) These photographs are exceptional! Stella Stevens is in a large wooden bathtub,in the middle of the desert.Jason Robards is walking up to this wooden bathtub with a bucket in his hand. In the next photograph he is bending over the wooden tub about to kiss Stella Stevens. These photographs were given to my mom in appreciation. She gave them(cast and crew) special attention, in opening up the restaurant early in the a.m. so the cast and crew could get coffee and a bite to eat before setting out for Apacheland. My sister and I actually got to see a preview of the film in the Velda Rose's Conference room. Stella Stevens came in, all in a hurry, with big rollers in her hair, to watch it. They were very pleased with the results. It's been a great trip back through time once again.
This is Peckimpah at his top form within his poetic lyricism. Like Terrence Mallick and Kubrick, here, Sam enlighten us with calmness and beauty inside great storms. The film reminds me David Lynch's The Straight Story for its simplicity and honesty, and gives the feeling also, like Lynch's, that true artists can communicate with their audience even when they are "out of their leagues". As Orson Wells philosophy, this film demonstrates there are no patterns nor boundaries when good people do what they love, because they give their best! Robards is Cable Hogue, and this is one of the greatest films of all times!
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