In 1896, three whalers are stranded in the Arctic North Canada and seek refuge with an Eskimo tribe. Gradually they gain control with the Eskimo village and introduce gambling, booze, theft... See full summary »
Louis Gossett Jr.
Having fled to Mexico from the U.S. many years ago for killing his father's murderer, Martin Brady travels to Texas to broker an arms deal for his Mexican boss, strongman Governor Cipriano ... See full summary »
Sam Whiskey is an all-round talent, but when the attractive widow Laura offers him a job, he hesitates: he shall salvage gold bars, which Laura's dead husband stole recently, from a sunken ... See full summary »
In 1876, the Missouri legislature issues a pardon and amnesty to the James and Younger gangs despite many people considering them outlaws. The pardon is because they protected the homesteaders of Clay County against the marauding railroaders, who wouldn't let anyone or anything get in their way of building the railroad where they wanted. However, the railroad companies and banks still consider them outlaws and will take matters into their own hands if they come across the gangs. Prior to the pardon, Cole Younger had contemplated robbing the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota - what is considered the largest bank west of the Mississippi - but has now decided against it. Circumstances, including learning that Jesse James and his gang are going ahead with the robbery behind his back, and that the railroaders issuing a war against them which also includes bribing the legislature to revoke the pardon, make Cole change his mind. But right from the start - even during the planning ... Written by
Goof: At the end of the baseball game a 20th Century home can be seen in the background. See more »
The film was shot mostly in Jacksonville, Oregon, whose landscape bears little resemblance to that of Northfield. Many errors result from this, such as the hills outside of town (Northfield is located in relatively flat farm country). See more »
Even before the wounds of the Civil War had healed in Missouri, the railroads came swarming in to steal the land. Everywhere, men from the railroads were driving poor, defenseless families from their homes. And that's when a fresh wind suddenly began to blow. It was other Clay County farmers, the James and Younger boys, coming to the rescue. They tarred and feathered the railroad men and drove them from the land. From that moment onward, they were outlaws. But the people of ...
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First the bad: sudden, jarring changes in tone. It veers abruptly from grim, bitter drama to clever caper movie to unfunny comedy. These shifts are badly exacerbated by the messy, eclectic, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink score, which all too often comments on scenes in ways I found ill-fitting and inappropriate. A couple of examples: an early scene in which Jesse riles up the boys by going into a feverish Southern preacher mode, to get them fired up for the titular bank job, is turned from creepy and compelling into light-hearted comedy by the wacky music behind it; similarly, late in the film, a citizen posse chasing the gang commits an atrocity on four innocent men, and the music again makes light of it, with an ironic silly 'wah wah wah'. Just awful. What were they thinking? Also bad, an interminable scene of a raucous baseball game comes out of nowhere and drags on and on with utterly unfunny slapstick. The subplot with the Pinkertons adds next to nothing. The cinematography is too often flat and TV-like.
Now the good, and the reasons I gave this a 7 anyway: excellent performances from Robertson and Duvall and the supporting cast, and a very strong screenplay, well-paced, with believable characters whose individual traits are clearly delineated. Cole Younger is a crafty pragmatist, keenly interested in modernity as represented by machinery, ready to leave criminality behind and change with the times; Jesse James is shown as his opposite, an embittered true believer in the Confederate cause, who uses that belief as justification for continued criminal violence. In this theme of men unable to change with the times, the film is akin to some of Peckinpah's work.
Also good are fundamentals like art direction, locations, costuming, and set design. This is all handled with grubby veracity, in the same vein as other films from around the same time like "McCabe and Mrs. Miller". It really excels here.
On the whole, the character-driven, group-dynamic elements of the story are so fully realized that they make the movie compelling and worth watching in spite of its tonal flaws.
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