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Lee Van Cleef,
The rich and ruthless rancher Brandt Ruger keeps his beautiful young wife Melissa like a part of his property, subdued to his will. But one day she's kidnapped by the famous outlaw Frank Calder - just to teach him reading, so he tells her. Calder doesn't know or care who's wife she is. He takes care of her well, and eventually Melissa falls in love with him. But Ruger feels humiliated. Full of hate, he sets out to kill him - and Melissa too, if necessary. Together with his friends and the newest technology in guns, which carry 800 yards, he initiates a battue on Calder and his gang. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
This movie had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. As wild westerns go, this ranks near the top. It's very well paced, and the acting is superb. Plot twists and the unfolding of well-developed characters sustain the movies' tension to the end.
Oliver Reed is stunning as Frank Calder, the tough leader of an outlaw gang who wants to learn to read. Thinking she is a schoolteacher who can teach him his letters, he kidnaps Melissa (Candice Bergman), the wife of the very wealthy Brant Rudger (Gene Hackman). Rudger, a cruel sadist and absolute dictator, talks his wealthy cronies into hunting down the outlaw gang and picking them off one by one with high-powered rifles. But he proposes it more as a game of revenge or sport than out of love or fear for his wife's safety.
Calder and Rudger are both brutal men, but Calder values human life and relationships while the Rudger cares only for indulging his passions at any cost. Though his friends start to sicken of the game and beg him to stop, Rudger won't be deterred from the game.
As the movie develops, Oliver Reed's scenes crackle with tension, energy, and a depth of sexuality that may surprise those who are more familiar with his roles as the heavy or antagonist. Gene Hackman's character brings a single-minded intensity to the movie that has rarely been matched on screen. Candice Bergman gives a feisty performance and carries off a difficult role very well. Her character is caught, both literally and figuratively in a war of emotions, in a terrifying conflict.
I agree with the prior reviewer who says this needs to be released on DVD! With so many bad movie DVD's out there, I'm surprised this one's potential has been overlooked for so long. Frankly, I would love to see it on the big screen.
28 of 35 people found this review helpful.
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