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Ross Bodine and Frank Post are cowhands on Walt Buckman's R-Bar-R ranch. Bodine is older and broods a bit about how he will get along when he's too old to cowboy. Post is young and rambunctious and ambitious for a better life than wrangling cows. When one of their fellow cowboys is killed in a corral accident, Post suggests a way into a better life for himself and his friend: robbing a bank. Bodine reluctantly joins in the plan and the two contrive to rob the local bank. They make good their escape initially, but Walt Buckman and his two sons, John and Paul, are incensed at this betrayal by their own trusted employees. John and Paul set out to bring Bodine and Post to justice. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
You show me an old cowboy, a young cowboy or an in between cowboy with more than a few dollars in his poke and I'll show a cowboy that stopped being a cowboy and robbed banks.
Well, let's rob us a bank.
It'll be safer than getting married.
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William Holden and Ryan O'Neal rob a bank in the old west
Blake Edwards began by writing westerns, but he mainly did other genres like comedy (as in the Pink Panther series). Wild Rovers looks like a labor of love for Edwards. He wants to show us the violence, the comradeship, the conflicts, the whores, the drinking, the horses and the gunplay, and he does. The sum of its parts is greater than the movie in total, that is, each sequence is very enjoyable, even if the entire tale is nothing special.
Holden is a 50-year old cowhand and the mentor and chum of the 25-year old O'Neal. This gives them a chance to ponder life and especially death, which is close, exemplified by the random death of a cowhand when his horse goes loco. Holden opines that the life of each of us mostly cannot be any other way than what it is, although we have a small area we carve out. O'Neal sees that Holden has no material wealth, only dreams. He doesn't want to end up like Holden. He'd rather rob a bank. After they rob it, naturally the big rancher (Karl Malden) in the area and their employer wants them pursued. His sons (Tom Skerrit and Joe Don Baker) do this.
This sounds like many other westerns, but it isn't. This movie is all in the sequences, and some of them involve very beautiful scenery, and all are enhanced by Jerry Goldsmith's music.
There's a sequence where the men catch a wild horse and tame it. How many times have we seen something like that? Edwards writes his version of poetry in these scenes with slow motion, double exposures, and so on.
Every scene becomes memorable in the hands of Edwards and Philip Lathrop (cinematographer) with able set design and acting helping too, not to mention the film editing. Examples: The initial scene of the rovers returning to the ranch; their meal; the patriarch Malden with his family and later with his wife alone; Moses Gunn the mule trader; Maybell and her whorehouse; the sheriff Dan French being roused from a bed with his favorite girl; the shootout between the cow and sheep patriarchs; Ryan O'Neal's card game; several shootings; Holden in bed with his girl smoking a cigar; Holden singing. I could go on. We've all seen it before, but this movie gives a fresh take on it all and brings it to life lovingly.
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