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The Spikes Gang
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The Spikes Gang More at IMDbPro »

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29 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Good and unknown western shot in Almeria , Spain , with a great cast by young man actors and a sensational Lee Marvin

7/10
Author: ma-cortes from Santander Spain
22 June 2006

After escape home , three young man friends (Gary Grimes , Charles Martin Smith , Ron Howard) form a strong alliance , a dynamic trio combining raw untamed youth . Later on , they meet an old man named Spikes (Lee Marvin) with the experience only a master gunfighter can offer . As three boys wanted to be like their hero and they got their wish . They create his own band and carry out a great number of bank robberies and murders and soon they were worth a fortune . They are become as outlaws with a price on their heads . But they are trapped in Mexico , and while awaiting a trial they are released on bail by the bandit Spikes . The three young men accompanied by the veteran crook on the raid bank again , in which two of them are severely wounded . Then , the lawmen form a posse and engage to hunt down the gang.

This exciting film packs Western action , rider-pursuits , thrills, emotion , shootouts and results to be quite entertaining . Besides , it contains good feeling such as friendship , faithfulness and companionship although it was betrayed by one of them at the end . The young players trio is phenomenal , they will have too much successes in their future , especially Ron Howard (American Graffiti) with a successful career as a nice director (Beautiful mind , Cinderella man, Da Vinci Code) , Charles Martin Smith as a prestigious secondary (Starman, Untouchables) , and Gary Grimes (Summer of 42, Class of 44) as a Western starring in similar role as a naive cowboy (Cahill US Marshal , CulpepperCattle) , though he is nowadays retreated . The extremely low holsters worn by the three boys are so unauthentic to the period as to be downright silly . And , of course , the great Lee Marvin , he makes a terrific acting as a tough gunslinger . Furthermore , there also appears two notorious secondary actors from numerous Westerns : Noah Beery Jr and Arthur Hunnicut . Robert Beatty, despite being credited as The Sheriff, is nowhere to be seen . The film was shot in Almeria (Spain) , a location where was filmed hundreds of Spaghetti/Paella Westerns during the 60s and 70s . The motion picture was well directed by Richard Fleischer . The movie will appeal to Lee Marvin fans and twilight Western enthusiasts.

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22 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A Good Movie

8/10
Author: tightspotkilo from Oregon, USA
26 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Spikes Gang was made back in the days when Ron Howard was your prototypical golly gee whiz teenager, just a number of months after American Graffiti, and in the same year which Howard's TV sitcom Happy Days premiered. So there he was, still right smack dab right there in the midst of being the golly gee whiz teen-aged lad. He was what he was, and that's exactly what he was. Howard stayed with his acting career for awhile after this, through the 70s, but he never really broke out of that mold. If he had stuck with acting a little longer perhaps he might have been able to broaden his range. Or, on the other hand, maybe it's for the best that he didn't, since he actually did go on to have a remarkable career behind the camera.

The point being is that there is a bit of a surprise here, a difference between this and other Ron Howard acting vehicles, because here Ron Howard actually plays slightly against type, not entirely the innocent lad we usually see. This story has an edge, a serious steely edge, sometimes subtle, sometimes not, but definitely always there, and Les (Ron Howard's character) and his two buddies learn some things about life the hard way, harder in fact than one might have expected in a Ron Howard movie in those days. Another edge this film dances on is a precarious edge, at times the film dangles towards being a comedy of sorts, an amusing coming-of-age story, but at other times towards a deadly-serious drama. Robert Fleischer was an experienced and accomplished director. He knew what he was doing, and he did it well.

Lee Marvin is very good in this movie, as he usually was in most all of his performances. That alone is enough to commend it. And that's not all there is.

I would compare this movie to The Shootist. While certainly the stories and the themes they paint are very different, and the the dynamics of the characters are very different, the two films nevertheless operate on about the same plane, and some similarities do exist. Ron Howard learning hard truths about life from Lee Marvin. Ron Howard learning hard truths about life from John Wayne. The Shootist is noted for being John Wayne's last movie. The Spikes Gang has no such hook, and so it fell into obscurity. But my guess is that someone who likes one film one would like the other, and I like them both. I recommend The Spikes Gang.

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16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

What a surprise!!

8/10
Author: dan_in_denver (dan8995@yahoo.com) from Denver CO USA
28 September 2002

I happened to catch this film on a late night showing on a classic movie channel. I was REALLY surprised by this film!! I have seen other comments on it that refer to the movie as "under-rated", and I couldn't agree more!

Lee Marvin does a fantastic job portraying bank robber Harry Spikes who meets and befriends three teen aged boys who gradually come to admire Spikes and his lifestyle. After Spikes leaves the boys, circumstances lead them to run away together and begin what they thought would be the adventure of thier lives. They soon find that adventure, life, and Harry Spikes are not all they seemed to be! Ron Howard, Gary Grimes and Charlie Martin Smith play thier parts perfectly. The film also benefits from the reality lent by the dilapidated and run down buildings in the various towns shown in the movie, rather than the cheesy 'gunsmoke" type sets that are normally seen in films of this genre and time.

I can't recommend this movie highly enough!! 8/10

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19 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A very rare underrated Classic!

10/10
Author: Tommy Phillips from Bridgeport, WV
13 October 2000

I saw this movie about two years ago while I was up studying at around 4:00 A.M. Lee Marvin plays an outlaw that takes three runaway teens under his wing. He teaches them the tricks of the trade in bank robbing. The movie takes on a surprising twist towards the end. A very nice movie that almost NEVER comes on TV. If anyone knows how I could get the VHS version, please email me. Thanks. I give it a 10.

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Between Heaven and Hell

Author: dbdumonteil
13 July 2008

This is probably Richard Fleischer's last good movie;it's considered polite to say that all he did after "solyent green" is worthless.Richard Fleischer made lots and lots of great movies from " follow me quietly" to " the narrow margin" ,from "20,0000 leagues under the sea" to "The Vikings "and from "Barabbas" to "the Boston strangler" to the stunning (and perhaps his masterpiece) "10 Rillington Place" After "Solyent green" which featured the extremely moving scene of the death of Edward G.Robinson (who eventually died some months after),only "Spikes gang" shows something of the unqualified brilliance that accompanies Fleischer in his career through "Solyent green" .It is a western which has nothing to do with the epics of Ford,Daves or Walsh or Mann.It has also (fortunately) nothing to do with Peckinpah.

Filmed in Spain,its spirit is actually close to that of Arthur Penn,particularly "Bonnie and Clyde".When Grimes is daydreaming and sees his father tell him :"you're no longer my son;you're dead" ,it recalls that scene when Bonnie meets her mom for a picnic and the old lady says "you're already dead ,Bonnie Parker" .

The three lads are in search of a father ,which is very Pennesque ,notably in "the left handed gun" .even in a non-western film such as "the miracle worker" Ann Sullivan was Helen Keller's second mom. Grimes' father was a religious man ,perhaps not far from being a fanatic (his part is too underwritten).Remember that scene in the bank where the ticking of the clock merges into the memories of the whip coming down .Lee Marvin is their new father and I go as far as to write that Grimes is some kind of father to his two mates too when he is absent.

The three lads are amateurs and cannot free them of the concept of right and wrong ,coming from a religion which does not give any answer;when they're eating hosts and drinking sacred wine,one of the youngest speaks of blasphemy but their leader tells them so "Christ would give them to us if He were here" .

Lee Marvin's character is extremely interesting.Lee Marvin never overplays and the discovery that he was once married to an educated wife ,a teacher who spoke several languages and played the piano comes aside as a shock.This memory is necessary ;without it,the ending would not make any sense.

An inferior director would have made "men" of the three teenagers ;but they can't :their dreams ,their remorse,the letter one of them sends to his mom,the trust they put in Marvin,all indicates that when they die they will still be big children.

Like this?try this.....

"Run for cover" Nicholas Ray 1955

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Apprentice bandits.

8/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
21 June 2004

Three miscreant youths, Gary Grimes, Ron Howard, and Charles Martin Smith find a wounded Lee Marvin on the road and take him to the barn of Gary Grimes father's farm. They patch him up, feed him, Grimes gives him his horse and he makes a getaway.

That doesn't sit well with Grimes' father who has lied to a posse about Marvin not being around. He takes off his belt and tans the hide off Grimes back. Grimes runs away then and there and the other two join him.

Like a lot of youth back then, when I was young, when this picture was made and today; these kids are bored. But back then there just weren't any diversions. Life was hard on those homestead farms, Grimes' father is a hard man, he had to be. The story of these kids is the story I'm sure of a lot of youth in the west.

They take up bank robbing like their new hero Lee Marvin and make a botch of it. They kill a State Senator accidentally and don't even get away with the money. Fleeing to Mexico, they meet up again with Marvin who takes them under his wing now, to show them how to do it right.

The rest of the movie is the unfolding of their disillusionment. They've killed a State Senator and they're hot. Lee Marvin does not turn out to be the hero they had in mind. But by his lights, he's operating quite logically.

The three young actors convey nicely what it must have been like to grow up on a bleak prairie homestead and to get a chance at what they perceive will be adventure. Lee Marvin strikes the right note in a difficult part. In some ways at first he appears to the kids to be just like his character in Monte Walsh, a rugged individualist who lives by his own code. He has to be that to appeal to the kids in the first place. He tries to make them shuck their boyish illusions about outlawry, but when push comes to shove the kids can't do it. Marvin is not like Liberty Valance in this film, a sadistic bully. But he does what he has to in order to survive as an outlaw.

The kids fail their apprenticeships, but they and Marvin give the audience some great entertainment.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Great Movie

Author: cm981226 from An Irishman living in Glasgow, Scotland
26 February 2002

A gem of a movie.Very realistic and exciting.A good combination of an established actor (Marvin) combined with up & coming actors (Grimes,Smith & Howard).It portrays the american west in a realistic manner (like most westerns from the late 60's & early 70's)

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Good lessons in life.

8/10
Author: Mike from Venice, FL
8 December 2003

Imagine, a movie that gives a lesson right from the bible, 'Those that live by the sword shall die by the sword'. It was amazing that none of the 3 boys ever said to one another, 'we were better off with our parents'. After doing some of the dumbest things imaginable for young boys and doing it badly you would think

they were smart enough to realize they weren't cut out for being out on their own. Anyhow, the movie was well done, gave you a real feel for what it must

have been like living in the 'Old West'. Plus how hard it must have been to be accepted by a community that knew every detail of every citizen that lived in the area. Maybe the reason for such a poor showing at the box office was the title. Lee Marvin plays himself and does it superbly.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

good movie with real morals

9/10
Author: Naturalessence
17 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie when I was up late. I was bored one night. It was one of the only interesting-looking thing on. I absolutely love this movie! I wish this was the "must watch" for the wanna be gangsta rappers, the way Scarface is.

Even though basically they end the same, there is an underlined sense of repentance in this movie's end that is completely absent from movie themes today. It was real.

Getting half way in something (especially crime) and then wishing you hadn't started it is a real factor. This is something rare to see in these movies. Instead of leaving the movie thinking "I could do that, I just won't make those mistakes," the way other gangsta flicks make people feel, you leave thinking "maybe this isn't at all what I thought or want."

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

The name's Spikes, Harry Spikes. I'm a bank robber boys.

8/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
2 September 2013

The Spikes Gang is directed by Richard Fleischer and adapted to screenplay by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. from the novel The Bank Robber written by Giles Tippette. It stars Lee Marvin, Gary Grimes, Ron Howard and Charles Martin Smith. Music is by Fred Karlin and cinematography by Brian West.

Happening upon an injured man, three boys nurse him back to health and learn that he is bank robber Harry Spikes (Marvin). Enchanted by his tales and way of life, the boys decide to form their own gang and eventually linking up with Spikes who then teaches them the tricks of his trade. However, the outlaw life is not as romantic as the boys first envisaged...

It's filmed in DeLuxe Color and the location photography is out of Tabernas, Almería, Andalucía in Spain. Yet the colours and landscape contours are not vivid, they are deliberately pared back so as to not give the impression this is a vibrant yeehaw tale of young spunkers on the lam. The Spikes Gang is ripe with a foreboding atmosphere about the innocence of youth corrupted by stretching too far for romanticism. The boys home life out there on the frontier is painted as sad, even grim, with bad or absent parents featuring strongly, it's not hard to buy into the fact these impressionable young men in waiting yearn for adventure.

Once out there striding for fortune and notorious glory, the lads find the harsh realities of outlaw life. No money means no food, and to rob people you have to be prepared to use violence, and to then take the consequences of those actions, be it emotionally or by having a price then put on your own young heads. Hooking up with Spikes seems the cool thing to do, he becomes a surrogate father and he at least gives them skills to survive a basic outlaw way of life. There's hope dangled, even much humour inserted into the narrative, but there's always an air of disillusionment lurking around the corner as this character study unscrews the myths of the West.

Which leads to what? A moral lesson? Perhaps? Well what we do know is that it builds gently, with Fleischer adroitly forming his characters and garnering superb performances from his cast (one of Marvin's best turns actually) in the process. Once the finale plays its hand, it's of such sadness to leave an indelible impression that anyone of sound heart will find hard to shake from the memory bank. Western legends Arthur Hunnicutt and Noah Beery pop in to the picture to add some weight, the former quite excellent with a pitiful characterisation that really kick- starts the emotional wattage, while the contributions of Karlin and West are faultless in terms of screenplay alliance.

Judged harshly by the jaded critics of the time and mostly ignored at the box office, The Spikes Gang may just be one of the most under valued Westerns of the 70s. Whether it was bad timing due to the direction the Western genre was taking at the time of release I'm not sure, but this is an elegiac treat waiting to be rediscovered by the Western lover. 8/10

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