The Spikes Gang (1974) Poster

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7/10
Good and unknown western shot in Almeria , Spain , with a great cast by young man actors and a sensational Lee Marvin
ma-cortes22 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 who wear extremely low holsters are 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 . And , of course , the great Lee Marvin , he gives 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 . And some Spanish secondary actors , usual in Pasta/Chorizo Western , such as : Ricardo Palacios , Adolfo Thous and Rafael Albaicín . The film was shot in Tabernas , 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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8/10
A Good Movie
tightspotkilo26 January 2006
Warning: 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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8/10
What a surprise!!
dan_in_denver28 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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Between Heaven and Hell
dbdumonteil13 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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10/10
A very rare underrated Classic!
Tommy Phillips13 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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8/10
Apprentice bandits.
bkoganbing21 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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9/10
good movie with real morals
Naturalessence17 December 2005
Warning: 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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8/10
Good lessons in life.
Mike8 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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8/10
One of Three Grimes True West Depictions
kjeroh-15 November 2011
The Spikes Gang is a very good western that shows what probably happened to a good many youngsters who struck out on their own in the expanding west. It is one of three westerns that Gary Grimes starred in that gave a darker and truer view of life in the old west for teenager. The others are The Culpepper Cattle Co., 1972 and Cahill, U.S. Marshall, 1973.

Lee Marvin plays a wounded bank robber, (Spikes) on the run from a posse, whom three teens find (Grimes, Ron Howard and Charles Martin Smith) and nurse back to health. The three youths, small community and under the heavy hand of discipline, become enthralled with Spikes and soon strike out on their own soon after he departs.

After a series of misadventures, the youngsters meet up with Spikes again, who, against his better judgment, takes them under his wing.

The Spikes Gang is a fast paced movie and seems to play upon the anonymity of three teenagers, ill-prepared for a brutal and unforgiving way of life. The one drawback to the pace is that it does not give a good sense for the passage of time, but is effective in emphasizing the few sparks in mundane lives.

As part of the Grimes Western trilogy, one can get a good look at an overly romanticized part of history.
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Great Movie
cm98122626 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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