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Having been to Hawaii and actually going through the famous Parker ranch on the big island, I'm in a better position to comment on this film now than before.
The Castaway Cowboy is one of two films James Garner made for the Disney studio in the Seventies. He's a Texas cowboy who got himself shanghaied in San Francisco and jumped ship and washed ashore on Kaui. Right into the arms of widow Vera Miles and her son Eric Shea who are struggling to make a living as farmers.
A lot of wild cattle keep trampling up their crops. So Garner gets the idea that they ought to start cattle ranching instead. Of course the Hawaiian farm hands don't readily take to the American cowboy culture. Of course they eventually do in the end.
Cattle came to Hawaii courtesy of British explorer George Vancouver who left them on the big island. It was the descendants of those cattle with which John Parker founded his ranch. No doubt some of them made it to the smaller islands in the chain.
Of course there's a villain in the piece and it's Robert Culp. He's a banker with eyes to grab Vera Miles land and maybe Vera herself. Culp does resist the tendency to model his performance on Snidely Whiplash and he's a worthy rival of the resourceful Garner.
Of course there are paternalistic attitudes towards the native Hawaiians. But if you want to see a serious film about those attitudes than watch the film made of James Michener's novel Hawaii. This is a Disney family product and doesn't pretend to be social commentary.
The Castaway Cowboy is a good entertainment. How could it be anything else with James Garner starring.
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