|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Index||15 reviews in total|
Finely crafted production by Aubrey Schenck, with most of its action confined to a spot on the Rio Grande where a bunch of "squatters" have set up a primitive frontier town and a man (the "barquero", Van Cleef) has built a barge connected by rope to cross the river. When a bandit leader (Oates) and his group plunder and burn a nearby town, killing everyone, they make fast tracks to the barge, only to find the town evacuated and the barge on the other side of the river, with Cleef and his woodsman friend (Tucker) reluctantly defending the mostly nebbish townspeople. The script's sardonic tone is probably indebted to contemporary Italian oaters, but its ferocious drive and its focus on a personal confrontation between to determined, opposed strangers is very effective. Cleef is good at showing that he has no real concern for the villagers, but is absolutely set on not letting Oates' bandits burn his barge. Oates is a bit over the top (method acting is the worst type to go over the top with), especially in the poorly-conceived scene where he shoots the river. Solid action film with a significant difference going for it.
Beautiful Colorado scenery and a fine attention to detail in this western
set in the late 1860s.
Several American attempts at a spaghetti western surfaced in the late 1960s: this one is a much more compelling film than Eastwood's "Hang 'Em High", in that all of the lead characters are well-drawn and mysterious.
Van Cleef, in his finest lead, plays the title character, a man more interested in protecting his barge than in the well-being of the "squatters" who populate the town. Oates is a bit hammy as Remy, but an effective psychotic villain nonetheless.
Tucker practically steals the film in a role that would have gone to Edgar Buchanan two decades earlier, that of Mountain Phil, a man loyal enough to put his life on the line for his best friend, and who holds the "squatters" in even more contempt than the barquero does.
Should be on DVD by now. An overlooked gem that anticipated "Tom Horn", "Unforgiven", and other stripped-down westerns that would follow over the next 25 years.
Lee Van Cleef had already become an international star late in his career,
following his success in the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns, when he
starred in "Barquero", made in 1970. The film is clearly influenced by the
Spaghetti tradition, most clearly displayed in the drugged-up, psychotic
villain, Jake Remy, who bares similarities to the character of Indio in
a Few Dollars More". However "Barquero" is far superior to the many
"Spaghetti" imitators and deserves to stand on its own as a great
The plot is fairly simple, beginning with the massacre and plundering of a peaceful town by Jake Remy and his crew of assorted bandits. Their only escape from capture is to cross the river to safety but the only person who can help them is the Barquero, played by Lee Van Cleef, who refuses, and a violent stand-off ensues.
The film is aided immeasurably by the performance of Warren Oates as Jake Remy, in one of his best roles. Remy makes even most the evil Western characters look saintly in comparison, as he kills and butchers anyone who gets in his path (check out the scene in which he sleeps with a woman and then casually kills her) and his only redeeming feature is his loyalty to his men. This is perhaps the only Western in which the bad guy is given more screen time than the hero and is one of the most complex villains ever seen on screen. Remy has a past which he is haunted by, and is slowly driven mad by his determination to cross the river and by the stubbornness of the Barquero.
The film does not really have a hero, as the only two characters to resemble this are the Barquero and Mountain Phil, a truly bizarre character, excellently played by Forrest Tucker. The Barquero is prepared to help the endangered townsfolk against Remy, but only because he wants to bed one of the women and Mountain Phil does not help out of kindness but more so because he is slightly insane.
"Barquero" was directed by the undistinguished Gordon Douglas, although he did direct the classic 1954 Sci-Fi/horror "Them". Fans of Sam Peckinpah will be pleased to see the villainous pairing of Warren Oates and John Davis Chandler, although Van Cleef fans may be disappointed as he is given little to do, besides having to wear one of the worst shirts ever committed to film.
"Barquero" should be seen by anyone who is serious about Westerns and is required viewing for fans of the great Warren Oates.
The picture narrates as a renegade motley group (Warren Oates, Kerwin
Matthews, Armando Silvestre) executes a massacre when they are robbing
the village's inhabitants . They flee but are stopped by a barge's
owner (Lee Van Cleef) in the frontier on river Grande . The barquero
called Travis has his own life-style and his own death-style . He is
only helped by a mountain man (Forrest Tucker) . The confrontation will
be terrible and they will fight until death .
The highlights of the movie are the initial slaughter by the cutthroats and facing off between the good and bad guys on the lumber barges . This picture along with ¨ Hang'em high¨ (by Ted Post with Clint Eatwood) belongs to numerous filmed in the 60s and 70s influenced by Spaghetti Western , thus it develops ordinary themes such as : revenge , violent facing , similar musical score , tough antiheroes , spectacular gun-down and excessive baddies , all of them common issues in Italian Western . Lee Van Cleef , recent his success in Leone Western (A few dollars more) is top-notch . Warren Oates is magnificent as the ominous and hideous villain . The secondary cast is excellent , Forrest Tucker as the wry and impulsive trapper , Kerwin Mathew as Marquette , Mariette Hartley as Anna , Armando Silvestre as Sawyer and John Davis Chandler plays a cocky villain , as always . Dominic Frontiere's musical score is atmospheric and adjusted to action western , similar to ¨Hang 'Em High¨ soundtrack that he also composed . The motion picture was well directed by Gordon Douglas , though Robert Sparr was originally set to direct, but he was killed in a plane crash while scouting locations in Colorado , then Gordon was hired to replace him . Gordon Douglas direction is nice , he had formerly got a lot of experience in Western genre (Only the valiant and Chuka). The yarn will appeal to Lee Van Cleef fonds and Western movies fans.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lee Van Cleef squaring off in a battle of wills against Warren
Oates..if that doesn't draw excitement from western fans, then you need
to check your vital signs, because you might just not be registering a
pulse. Fascinating "psychological oater" has cold-blooded killer Jacob
Remy(Warren Oates in a phenomenal performance)and his band of murderous
cutthroats needing to use a barge in order to cross a river into
Mexico. The problem is that the barge is across the river on the other
side and in possession of barquero(bargeman)Travis(Lee Van Cleef), his
mountain tracker pal, Phil(Forrest Tucker, stealing every scene he's
in)and a group of religious squatters. Who will ultimately win this cat
and mouse game as each leader tests the other's resolve in order to
maintain control of the barge?
The movie opens with a sensational 20 or so minute shootout where Remy's men open fire on a town of innocent people for their materials and valuables, including bags of silver stolen from the bank. Remy and his men are so despicable, they not only shoot the men, but women as well.
Travis and Phil uncover the truth about Remy's plans to use the barge to get across the river, burning it down afterward, thanks to the blabbering of Fair(..a really young John Davis Chandler)who they take prisoner. Getting across the river, Travis will be damned if he'll give up his barge, and Remy attempts, through various methods, to persuade him to. Kerwin Mathews is Jacob's French lieutenant, the brains of their outfit, attempting to convince him to split their loot evenly, separating before things get out of hand. But, Remy is determined to get that barge, slowly driven to the brink of madness as Travis often outsmarts him, including a successful rescue of a kidnapped squatter.
The film is worth watching if just for the performance of Warren Oates, who vividly, and impressively, conveys a madman deteriorating psychologically bit by bit as his attempts to retrieve the barge fail. Van Cleef oozes confidence and charisma(..it's so effortless, he's such a cool cat, this guy)as the cerebral hero and Tucker is an absolute hoot as his calm, breezy, undeterred comrade who remains loyal to him as they match wits with their enemies. Great closing gun battle as Travis gathers his "troops" together for one final showdown with Jacob, Marquette and their goons as they attempt to get across the river another way.
A legitimate sleeper, definitely worth pursuing if you are a fan of Van Cleef and Oates. The beautiful Marienne Hartley has a supporting role as a squatter willing to offer her sexual services to Travis in exchange for his saving her husband from being drowned by Jacob.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Seasoned Hollywood helmer Gordon Douglas of "Them" directed this
gritty, no-nonsense shoot'em up "Barquero" with Lee Van Cleef as the
eponymous frontier type named Travis who owns a ferry on the Rio
Grande. What sets "Barquero" apart from all other westerns is that this
is the first time that a horse opera has been made where the hero is a
ferry man. Indeed, he doesn't ride a horse, he owns a ferry. In other
words, "Barquero" qualifies as unique. Furthermore, the William Marks &
George Schenck screenplay is simple, clear-cut, but violent. The guys
blast it out with each other and the filmmakers throw in a lot of
tongue-in-cheek, tough guy humor.
A crazy, pot-smoking outlaw, Jake Remy (Warren Oates of "Return of the Seven") and his bloodthirsty gang shoot up the town of Buckskin--though massacre might be a more descriptive word--and then hightail it for the border to make their getaway. Travis is the only man who stands between Remy and freedom and Travis isn't about to let Remy cross. A lot of bloodshed ensues as the villains try to make the crossing. Composer Dominic Frontiere contributes a memorable orchestral score. Lee Van Cleef is at his gimlet-eyed best and Warren Oates is as slimy as a villain can come. As Mountain Phil, Forrest Tucker is fun to watch as a rough-hewn frontiersman who joins forces with Travis. There's an amusing torture scene between iconic western character actor John Davis Chandler of "The Outlaw Josy Wales" and Forrest Tucker's mountain man. Surprisingly, Mariette Hartley is cast as Travis' woman.
One of the highlights of this offbeat western is the river attack when Jake's men construct small wooden craft and attack Travis. Lee Van Cleef had only recently made a name of himself in Europe as a star and this United Artists movie takes advantage of his rejuvenated career. Anybody who calls himself a Lee Van Cleef fan should definitely watch this solid shoot'em up.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Finally saw this tonight, its been called the "most Italianate of
American Westerns" by some critics (more so than Eastwoods contemporary
Hang em High) and I'll have to admit it really starts off like
gangbusters, after the unusual opening credits sequence (its shot to
resemble an oil painting looking as if the film is being projected upon
a canvas). Director was Gordon Douglas who did "Rio Conchos", "Chuka",
"Them", "Robin & The Seven Hoods", and "In Like Flint" to name a few.
Its initial first half has a way more SW feel to it than "Hang Em'
Unfortunately what I watched was a fullscreen pan & scan a bit blurry with the colors seeming a bit too strong, recorded off a broadcast so it wasn't quite the best way to watch it.
It was shot on location in Colorado.
We see two groups, a small army of mercenary outlaws and a trio riding in opposite directions with a river valley in the b.g. One side of the river leads to the Mexican border.
Lee Van Cleef is Travis the Barquero the ferryman, and we see him plying his trade as he pulls a wagon of settlers across, his only weapons are a bowie knife and some sort of long range rifle of a Sharps or Spencer type. He has one prop from his SW days and that's his "Angel Eyes" tobacco pipe.
We first see (Jack Remy) Oates in bed with a plump sweaty Hispanic whore Layeta, wearing his black hat with a fancy gold hat-band in a saloon/whore house the "Double Eagle" in the town of Buckskin (very frontier looking with a lot of log cabin buildings), he's looking his sleaziest best. Some sample dialog.
Whore (fawning) "am I not beautiful senior"? Jack (looking disgusted) "I need a drink". Whore "Say it senior." Jack "you're beautiful...oh are you beautiful". Whore "why do you wear your sombrero"? Jack " why do you wear your stockings" Whore "because they are pretty" Jack "my hat's pretty"
a bit later the whore is splashing perfume on herself while singing...
Whore "do I smell senior'? Jack "yea you sure do".
The massacre of the town starts and Jack is shooting from the window
A Mexican male breaks into Jacks room and asks "whats going on"
Jack "we're shooting people". and Jack blows him away. Jack to whore "you live in a lousy neighborhood, you ought to move".
Jack is in his command post for the raid on the town by his small army of misfits. Their goal is the bank and a shipment of Winchester Rifles that an army patrol is escorting. Oates' second in command is a Frenchman Marquette (Kerwin Matthews).
Jack dresses, Layeta asks "Senior wouldn't it be nice to take Layeta with you" Jack "no" Layeta "will I see you again"? Jack "I don't think so" and he shoots her.
The action sequences are pretty good throughout the whole massacre.
There are some very good character actors Forrest Tucker (Mountain Phil ) puts in an over the top memorable performance as a mountain man. All I remember of Tucker is his TV (F Troop) performance but he's a hoot in this flick too.
Marie Gomez plays Nola (Chiquita from The Professionals) she is Travis's woman. Mariette Hartley plays the unfaithful wife of a "squatter" who offers herself to Travis (a type of person she loathes but is attracted too) if he'll save her husband, he does, and she does, and Nola doesn't mind.
The film looses steam unfortunately once the confrontation becomes a Mexican standoff at the river, it even quotes FAFDM with a bit where Jack smokes reefer and has a flashback but it just doesn't work. The flash back recalls how he got his hat, not exactly a major plot point, and it feels as if it was stuck in there just to be going with the flow of the late 60's early 70's idea of cool.
The film had potential but ends up loosing its way and feels more like a TV program at the end.
The barge battle was a bit hurried but you have to admit different.
The final duel between Travis & Jack is flat has no dramatic build up at all, almost as if they ran out of time. Score is nothing special.
Van Cleef should have had a bit more screen time he's just not featured enough in my opinion, but he is acting in a very different role, not a cool efficient killer, not and ex outlaw, not a drunk, more of a pioneering business man. And this, come to think of it in hindsight may have been his biggest career screwup, he was typecast for years by Hollywood as an outlaw, then he got that role of a lifetime as Mortimer, he could of, or at least his agent could have really tried to do (as Eastwood did and parlayed the MWNN character into an American film career) if they had held out. If he had played another strong Mortimer type in a successful American film here who knows how far he may have gone.
This would have been a great Leone or Corbucci or Sollima film if they had the guts to bring an Italian director over and give him a budget, Peckinpah would have been excellent also, too bad, it was a unique story, and they would have made more out of it.
This needs a widescreen DVD transfer release, please.
Barquero has really no excuse for not living up to its full potential.
The inspired casting choice of piting genre stalwarts Lee Van Cleef and
Warren Oates in opposite sides of the river against each other and the
idea behind the film a group of ragtag cut-throats led by Oates
transporting rifles and silver after a successful raid at a nearby town
to the Sonoran territory in Mexico and desperately in need to cross the
river before the army gets them while Lee Van Cleef as the boatman
holds the barq at the other bank and refuses to pick them up. That
should have been enough to keep Barquero afloat and my terrible puns at
What really keeps the film down is the unpolished, roughly sketched script. The first and closing acts sustain interest through lengthy bouts of gunfighting but some kind of semi-compelling plot needs to be assembled for the middle act where sadly Barquero fails to kick the conflict into high gear, a hard feat to accomplish with a story that seems to invite conflict and could have gone into so many different places. Instead what we get by the end of act two is the good guys outwitting the bad and saving the hostage Warren Oates was keeping tied up and Oates half mad and desperate (as the army draws closer with every passing moment) shooting holes at the water and saying to his henchman "I shot the river". Not particularly endearing, don't you think? Forrest Tucker steals scenes in the role of ant-eating Mountain Phil while Van Cleef and Oates seem to be representing two different western archetypes Van Cleef the romantic hero eclipsed by the coming modernization of the west, represented in the movie by a bunch of squatters he's called to protect, Oates the rough-hewn, murderous son of a bitch, the gritty and hardboiled aspect of the western, pioneered at the time by spaghetti westerns of whose villains he's somewhat reminiscent of.
Definitely better seventies westerns to keep the genre aficionado occupied out there but it's worth a watch for its marquee value, Van Cleef and Oates a dream match made in heaven and both in pretty good shape.
Over the top, cheesy performances by the actors who are walking, talking caricatures of Western villains and heroes. Watching this movie was like watching a cartoon. So bad it's good, but very very good. The town slaughter was literally unbelievable, but so ultimately predictable it was perfect and sped the plot forward. The standoff at the river was simple good vs evil, with goodness and evil on both sides. Saw this on TV last night and couldn't turn it off. My wife wondered what I saw in it. I couldn't believe how brilliant the colors were and how clear the picture was after all these years. It was good to see Mariette Hartley in such a naughty role talking DIRECTLY into the camera about what qualities constitute the essence of a REAL WOMAN. Wow, wow, wow.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Barquero', released in 1970, is an original, highly entertaining
western that manages to find new elements of an, by then, over-used
genre. The naval aspect of the story seems unique, but the actual core
is basically a re-write of all the classic spaghetti westerns. In fact,
it seem that this is the most Spaghetti-like American western of its
time. But the rip-off isn't too dramatic, it works quite fine. Special
notice should go to the oil-painting opening credits - interesting,
The film's well-cast, led by Lee Van Cleef and Warren Oates as the opposing characters. Van Cleef is always watchable although he seems a little uneasy at playing a character that is neither the classic bad guy he was so good at nor a typical good hero. In the hands of another actor, it may have looked bland, but not with Van Cleef.
The film is daring enough to grant equal screen time to its main villain, played by Warren Oates who gets one of his very first cinematic leading roles here. Oates is the multi-layered Jake Remy, colourful bad guy and arguably better-characterized by the script than the ferryman Van Cleef. Oates delights in his role, in what seems like planned hamminess (good thing, because the role calls for it) coupled with authentic danger and ferocity.
Mariette Hartley is beautiful but unnecessary. The climax hurts the film. There's a good chance at the end to choose from two original endings (both dying, or both getting away) but the screenplay takes the cliché way and lets Van Cleef shoot Oates in a spiritless, thankless two-second duel. Pity.
To sum it up: very entertaining, good western with a great villain performance by Oates and a good-enough lead by Van Cleef.
|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|