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Craig T. Nelson
Teenager Ben Mockridge feels life in a Wild West farm town has nothing better to offer then horse-cart racing with other hicks, so he naively begs cattle company owner Frank Culpepper to engage him as youngest cowboy for a long cattle trail to a fort, his mother barely notices. Ben doesn't even seem to get it when he's told to report as 'little Mary' to the old cook, whose words cowboy is something you do only if you have nothing better gradually become clear. Instead of an exciting heroic macho life, it's endless hard work, dumb chores and embarrassment, even getting literally caught with his pants down, robbed of his horse, witnessing unpunished crimes... Written by
The pistol Ben (Gary Grimes) shows off to Tim (Charles Martin Smith) at the beginning of the movie and later kills his first man with during the saloon shootout is a model 1858 Remington Army. See more »
I want to go with you, Mr. Culpepper. I ride real good and I can do a lot of things. I mean, I'll work at almost anything, Mr. Culpepper. I really want to go.
Because I want to be a cowboy more than anything, Mr. Culpepper.
Well, that's one hell of an ambition, boy.
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Had I seen "The Culpepper Cattle Company" when it was released (I was 23), my life would have been a lot different; at least, if I'd understood and accepted the message. For, "The Culpepper Cattle Company" is about as bleak and realistic as any movie ever made. Gary Grimes plays a teenager with romantic, adventuresome ideas about cowboys. He learns, tragically, something completely different, after working for a short time on a cattle drive. Grimes doesn't just learn the usual lessons; that is, the work is exhausting, dirty, always dangerous and frequently unrewarding. He learns that most causes and people are treacherous, deceitful, selfish and certainly not worth dieing or killing for. Grimes also learns a lot about himself; some of which he probably didn't want to know.
There are a lot of fine performances in "The Culpepper Cattle Company," but Geoffrey Lewis makes the strongest impression. Lewis has such crazy blue eyes, it's no surprising producer Sergio Leone tapped him for head villain in "My name is Nobody" and Eastwood did the same for "High Plains Drifter." Here, Lewis plays a man who, under different circumstances, was probably quite decent. Now, he's just mean spirited and dangerous.
"The Culpepper Cattle Company" also boasts excellent production design, gritty photography and classic, memorable score by the beloved Jerry Goldsmith. Just don't expect to leave this movie feeling upbeat, inspired or even sad. You're more likely to feel slightly depressed. That being said, I give "The Culpepper Cattle Company" an "8".
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