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|Index||59 reviews in total|
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!
Not the usual Peckinpah fare, this movie is interesting and had a lot
of promise but it sputtered out and fizzled in the end. I really wanted
to love this movie, and thought that I would, until it came to a close.
The story is of a man abandoned in the desert by his two "partners" and left for dead, but who finds the only spring for many miles around right on a stagecoach route and sets up a rest stop and watering hole. At the same time, his original sole purpose is revenge, but other forces, including some key people and the changing nature of the west lead him to reexamine himself and pull him in new directions.
This story sounds great, and it basically is. It's a promising tale exploring luck, friendship, love, the value of revenge, whether people should bother with revenge and where one will go when obsessed with revenge, and the demise of the Old West. It thus possesses many interesting themes, and is really a very unusual western, with a different and fresh approach.
For much of the film, the story and themes are handled well. Unlike the usual Peckinpah movie, the issues are handled gently, yet they are no less powerful for that. it draws the viewer into the story.
Moreover, the characters are great and the actors's performances excellent. Jason Robards (Cable Hogue) and David Warner (Cable's friend, the "preacher" Joshua) are always a pleasure to watch and here they excellently and compellingly portray interesting and wonderful characters. Robards' performance is particularly compelling and sympathetic, while being fairly subtle and without being over the top, or begging for empathy.
There are some other elements that are a little questionable, but still generally work or which at least do not detract too much from the film. Some elements of the romance, particularly the song "Butterlfy Mornings" are a little saccharine and corny, but I can overlook these easily. The speeded-up motion to convey humor is also not very subtle, original, or particularly effective. However, it does generally work and it fits the mood of the film and the characters of Cable and Josh.
Another point is the theme music, such as that played at the beginning of the film during the credits. It's a type of 60s/70s folk music and while unusual for a western it certainly fits in with the notion of the film as a ballad of a colorful character.
The real problem is the end. It has its good points such as the message about the end of the Old West, and David Warner's concluding monologue, which is enjoyable (if perhaps a tad long),poignant, and compelling while making some pretty good points. Cable's ultimate transformation on revenge is also handled fairly well at the end. I do not want to give it away, but suffice it to say that otherwise the ending is a tad strange and comes across as hurried and thrown together. The transition from the second to last scene to the last scene sudden and apparently inexplicable. The events seem to be a cheap way to end the movie quickly, with an all-too-facile-and-convenient instrumentality ushering in the final moments, giving the impression that Peckinpah, et al., didn't quite no how to conclude it so threw this in to do the job. In addition, the conclusion does not really fully address the issues that the movie seemed to be raising, such as revenge and the end of the old west, and it leaves the develop of some of the characters (especially Josh) dangling. It just throws some elements of the issues and characters in and calls it a day. The result is that the rushed, cheap ending does much to nullify the strong virtues oft he movie. I don't have a problem with the basic result, but I do have major problems with the way it was handled.
In the end, this film is certainly well worth a look. Don't expect the usual Peckinpah-type film, but don't deride the film on that basis. Even knowing the ending I still would watch the film again, and there is a lot to appreciate. Unfortunately, I can also really appreciate how great this film could have been.
Yes, there is a soundtrack CD. It contains an engrossing and detailed
pictorial liner-notes chronology written by Nick Redman about the
movie's apparently unpleasant production, how it was termed "the BATTLE
of Cable Hogue" on the set, how rains in southern Nevada delayed
filming, that dozens were fired, how Peckinpah held firm for unknown
Richard Gillis's ideally-suited singing and songs, and how personal
vendettas at Warner Brothers virtually buried the film (and I agree, it
is Peckinpah's masterpiece). Warners, in my opinion, blew it.
Excellent pictorial CD by mail from: www.VareseSarabande.com
BTW, As a point of interest, Director Sam Peckinpah of "The Wild Bunch" and "Ballad of Cable Hogue" previously had directed TV's "Gunsmoke."
THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE is a film with a lot to like though the story
itself didn't seem to deliver. It's the story about a simple guy left
for dead in the desert who manages to eventually make it big and forge
As far as what I liked, I thought it was nice to see a Sam Peckinpah film where there wasn't much violence and no slow-motion death scenes. This is actually surprising as the film immediately followed THE WILD BUNCH--a film notable for violence. Additionally, some of the acting was very nice. In particular, Jason Robards, Jr. had a great role and really was able to carry the character or Cable Hogue very well. Despite being a very flawed character, you really could like the guy.
What I didn't like were the messages about religion. Preachers were either seen as sanctimonious jerks or sexually compulsive jerks--and nothing else. The worst of these was a preacher, of sorts, played by David Warner--the only performance in the film that just didn't ring true. Cable's lifestyle also bought into this view of the world, as his sweetie was a clichéd "prostitute with a heart of gold". Just once I want to see a film where a prostitute is bad or at least doesn't have a social worker or the Virgin Mary hidden down deep!!
Additionally, the story was a tad slow at times, occasionally had "comedic" clips added that just seemed cheesy (such as playing silent movie music and speeding the film up to supposedly heighten the laughs) and just seemed a little anticlimactic at the end. No,...VERY anticlimactic. This really blunted the message and the ending alone lowered my score from a 7 to a 6.
"The Ballad Of Cable Hogue" most likely will disappoint hard-core western fans. The revenge plot seems to be nothing more than an excuse for Cable to hang around, while being visited by a number of interesting travelers. It almost veers into "Paint Your Wagon" territory with the assortment of songs, and ongoing romance. Character development is good, and there are quirky twists and turns, but there is really no strong villain such as Lee Van Cleef in "The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly" Almost everybody is likable and in the end, "The Ballad Of Cable Hogue" turns out to be something resembling a western musical romance. My girlfriend enjoyed it more than I did. - MERK
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Ballad of Cable Hogue Directed by Sam Peckinpah 1970
This movie has several things in common with "Once Upon a Time in the West":
- Similarities in plot i.e. guy marries a beautiful whore and tries to build his own remote desert transportation stop.
- Both are directed by auteurs with cult followings.
- Both are deliberately paced and favor atmosphere over dramatic plot development.
- Both star Jason Robards.
- Both failed at the box office, but enjoy enthusiastic cult followings today.
- Neither has Indians (just kidding).
Peckinpah is one of the best action directors in the history of cinema, but he also excelled in character study/mood pieces. "Junior Bonner" is a modern Western he directed in a similar style to "Cable Hogue". While I liked "Junior Bonner" and his other mood piece "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid", "Cable Hogue" left me completely mystified.
I gave it two out of 10 stars in my IMDb rating. It got skunked in my ranking system with only three points. Only two movies so far have scored worse: "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and "Duel in the Sun".
I found almost nothing to like about this movie. However, I do have a list of criticisms:
- While I think Jason Robards can be an effective supporting actor, I don't think he can carry a movie as the lead.
- "Butterfly Mornings, Wildflower Afternoons" may be the worst song ever inflicted on mankind .and I've seen all of Elvis' movies.
- I hadn't the slightest interest at any point in this movie whether or not Cable got the girl or didn't, was successful financially or wasn't, got revenge on his former partners or didn't, or lived or died.
- In addition to the excruciating "Butterfly Mornings" love montage, there were a number of other non-sequiturs, including Benny Hill style film speed accelerations, Russ Meyers style closeups of breasts and Cable's death scene. Some claim this is Fellini-esquire. Fair enough. I hate Fellini movies. (That Russ Meyers, though, he had some talent).
- I've read that this is the finest performance of Stella Steven's career. I agree. Much better than her work in "Girls, Girls, Girls", "The Silencers" and "Slaughter". Check that. We did get to see her nipples in "Slaughter". That remains my favorite Stella Stevens performance.
- I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out what religion Peckinpah belonged to. He's extremely anti-Christian, but seems to believe in some kind of deity. His confused spiritual life was most likely ruled over by a God named Jack Daniels.
- I found the co-themes of the "death of the West" and "societal outcasts are really superior to. hypocritical societal snobs" trite and poorly developed.
- The setting here stretches the limits of the genre "Western". What is it, 1920? This is less of a Western and more of an absurdist romantic comedy with sagebrush and horses for props.
- Oh, I did like one thing, For once, R.G. Armstrong does not play a crazy Christian. Nice to see him stretching his range a bit.
Sam Peckinpah is known for his westerns, and here's another one.
However (this being the second western of his I've seen), I get the
distinct feeling from him that he had a little more on his mind than
genre. I found Wild Bunch to be a heavily post-modern approach to the
western story, making completely brutal characters out of archetypal
heroes and turning typical gunfights into gritty massacres (like the
end. Everyone romanticizes it, but it's really just four really crazy
but reserved men going into a town and shooting everyone, evil and
innocent alike, with a huge machine gun until they're finally put to
their own deaths. Nothing heroic in it).
This movie is more modernist, I'd say, with a bizarre sort of humor. There's a nymphomaniacal priest, a bunch of characters that basically don't take each other seriously, and then there's our protagonist, who is "not a good man, and not a bad man, but a man." Really that's all he is. You don't sympathize with him, but then again you don't hate him. He's just sort of there, in a recognizable and profound way.
Peckinpah himself shows his visual cunning in this film, with acute transitions that really place a bizarre timeline to the film and, interestingly enough, a great sense of zoom. Zoom, of all things. I mean... zoom! Who really makes an entire movie an artform out of just that? Well, Sam does, I guess.
Both westerns of his I've seen were about the end of the western era, and thus I think he himself is trying to end the genre itself by completely changing the contexts of the heroes we regarded in such films. Cable Hogue is a great rag-to-riches story... but in the end who cares? He's neither completely a man of the desert or a hero of the West. He is confused by the approach of technology, but basically embraces it, and doesn't begrudge it its ending of his life and style. This is VERY opposed to what I see most filmmakers do with the form, classically and contemperarily. From the spaghetti westerns that idealized our great hero dominators of the frontier to the Kevin Costner laments of pain of the Native Americans who ended up losing their land, The Wild West is still, at heart, a romantic and amazing place like that out of a fairytale, Disney or Grimm. Peckinpah's West is a blank one, a dry one... and a humanist one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
More then a decade ago, when I was a young cognoscente, not yet in love
with Mme. Woolf and her stylish literary modernism, nor with Maria
Lazariuso, more then a decade ago, in '96, as a young dashing
cognoscente, I have been charmed by this comedy. I did find it a quite
sexy movie, funny and what not. In that delightful uncut version, Mrs.
Stevens was indeed a girl to be watched. Otherwise, CABLE is a rather
sour satire about a looserquite like the later ROY BEAN. Mrs. Stevens
was the babe of the showers or the bath scenes. No babe looks fairer in
such circumstances; a cunning, malicious, inventive blonde, she was
typecast as prostitute or as babe who takes a shower. A piece of sour
revisionism, HOGUE was turned by Stella into a funny sex comedy and
even a kind of a clumsy, oxymoron screwball.
She always looked like a naughty but essentially accessible babe. In this sense, very late '60smere '70s girl. In a way, she looked too average and common to star in real screwballs (apart from the fact that the genre itself was abolished); but she had the charm to turn a satirical western into some kind of a screwball. She was noticeable.
Stella Stevens is for me one of the essential actresseslike Mimi Rogers, Eva Ionesco, Deborah Caprioglio, Rene Russo, Alexandra Moen, María Conchita Alonso, Stefania Sandrelli, Claudia Koll , Serena Grandi , Virginia Madsen, Jodie Foster, Kim Novak, Kim Basinger, Michelle Pfeiffer.
Given the fact that this film was Peckinpah's personal favorite I was
surprised that it was so average. "Junior Bonner" and "Ride the High
Country" were significantly better westerns (with related themes).
"Cross of Iron" and "The Getaway" were much more interesting films.
Although not in the same league from an originality perspective, "Cable
Hogue" has the look of "The Wild Bunch"; Peckinpah just used
humor/parody in place of some violence.
There was a period in the late 60's-ealy 70's where the desert became the convenient place for American, Spanish, and Italian directors to shoot film (it was a cheap location plus desert mysticism was a big thing with the trend setters). Most of these films look and feel the same-and all seem very unoriginal. "El Topo", "Chato's Land", "Joe Kidd", "Hombre", "Soldier Blue", and "The Hunting Party" were some of the westerns but even the present day setting of films like "Vanishing Point" and "Zabriske Point" have this same look and feel. All seem very dated, only "The Shooting" and "Ride the Whirlwind" still hold up well in this setting.
"Cable Hogue" is generally entertaining and has something to say about themes like revenge and love. But other than nostalgia for the early 1970's I can't see much to get excited about. There is one ground-breaking scene where David Warner has his hands inside Susan O'Connell's blouse and is fondling her breasts-I'm not sure anything quite this subtly erotic had occurred in mainstream American film up till that point. Sam also devoted a lot of attention to Stella Stevens breasts throughout the film. All the breast scenes have held up very well even if the overall film has not.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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