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Griffith plays a captain of industry who hires an ad agency (Shatner and Gortner). The agency tries to sell Griffith on a campaign shot in Baja, California. Griffith won't sign without all of them seeing Baja first-hand: on a dirt-bike road trip fraught with danger. Written by
Roger Thornhill <email@example.com>
"Pray for the Wildcats" is a TV "movie of the week" from 1974 about four businessmen (Andy Griffith, William Shatner, Robert Reed and Marjoe Gortner) who take a trip through the desert wilderness of Baja California on dirt bikes. Griffith plays Sam Farragut, an arrogant mogul who thinks money is power and anyone can be bought if the price is right; and, if they can't, well, they'll just have to be discarded one way or another. Needless to say, the trip doesn't go as pleasantly as planned.
If you didn't think it was possible for Griffith to play a robust villain you need to see this film. Andy just eats up the role of the dastardly Farragut. Not only is his performance a pleasure to behold, it rings true! All the other actors are perfectly cast, as are the wives and girlfriend of the three subordinate bikers, Lorraine Gary, Angie Dickinson and Janet Margolin respectively.
"Pray for the Wildcats" is a morality tale in the manner of "Deliverance," except that the crime is inverted and the trip takes place in the SW desert/coast rather than a wild river in Georgia. Although a TV movie, "Pray for the Wildcats" is every bit as good as "Deliverance" and perhaps even better. And, thankfully, it doesn't contain anything as hard to watch as that infamous "squeal like a pig" scene.
Judging from the reviews, many will ridicule such commendations. In fact, for reasons that elude me "Pray for the Wildcats" is often mocked as "campy" and "unintentionally funny." Really? I don't see this at all; and anyone who thinks it's campy obviously doesn't know what camp is. This is clearly a serious drama/adventure/thriller with the requisite soap operatics, but nothing overkill and definitely within the realm of believability. Another overdone criticism is Shatner's hairpiece, which is odd since it definitely LOOKS like his natural hair (not that it is).
The real reason reviewers make fun of "Pray for the Wildcats" is because (1.) it's a TV movie and (2.) three of the stars had well-known TV shows -- The Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek and The Brady Bunch -- and, gee, I guess there's no way they could really act and break away from their typecast roles. But they can and do superbly in "Pray for the Wildcats."
Another thing I love about this film is the powerful message: ***SPOILER ALERT*** One man sins greatly, but has zero remorse and tries to cover it up through his power and money; another man also sins, but realizes his mistake and ultimately proves his character; the other two show that they believe money and position are more important than justice and therefore prove their lack of character. ***END SPOILER***
The film was shot in Arizona and Baja California and runs 100 minutes.
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