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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 <email@example.com>
All little boys like to play cowboys in their lives and director Blake Edwards gets a late start in The Wild Rovers his first and last (Sunset boasts Wyatt Earp but it's Hollywood in the Twenties) western. Having gained his reputation on comedies (The Pink Panther franchise) and some taut contemporary dramas (Days of Wine and Roses) he does little more than mimic Sam Peckinpaugh right down to employing dead ender cowpoke Bill Holden in the lead.
Ned Bodine (Holden) and Frank Post (Ryan O'Neal)work as ranch hands for cattleman Walter Buckman (Karl Malden). When a fellow cowboy is killed in a corral accident the boys take stock of their life and decide to retire by robbing the local bank by holding the bank president's family hostage. The robbery works without a hitch and the boys make a clean getaway leaving the posse in the dust. They decide to turn back but Buckman's two sons continue the pursuit. Back home a range war with sheepherders keeps the old man busy.
Edwards pacing plods when it should be galloping. His convoluted screenplay merely flies off in another direction, fraught with peripheral action that neither advances or energizes the plot. Characters are ambiguously developed and while Holden and O'Neal show decent chemistry they only serve to express generational points of view in one lack lustre scene after another. Tom Skerrit as one of Buckman's kids out trying to garner his father's approval turns out to be the picture's most interesting character.
Edward's regular cinematographer Phil Lathrop is along to lens and he does offer up some fine compositions and panoramas but Edward's use of slo-mo blood letting (the rage of the day) is both heavy handed and gratuitous and it glaringly reveals Edwards is out to copy rather than be original.
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