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
Long before Clint Eastwood made "Unforgiven", "The Culpepper Cattle Company" was THE standout film for a glimpse into the lives of people trying to survive in a tough, unsympathetic old West. Gary Grimes played the part of a youngster itching to become a man on the drive. Like the audience members, Grimes is full of romantic vision, which is almost immediately dashed when he gets himself hired by Frank Culpepper (Billy Green Bush). What happens thereafter is that Grimes and the audience must cope with the fact that (in those days) there was no law, and often no justice. The meek suffered, and the sentimental get run over by the ruthless and bitter.
The quality of the camera work and the sparse sets create the sense of stepping into a time bottle. The story and characterizations are utterly believable and often haunting. Make no mistake, this is the west that was, and credit goes to the film's makers for this sleeper of a classic.
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