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Continuing my plan to watch every Arnold Schwarzenegger movie in order,
I come to 1979's Cactus Jack/The Villain.
Plot In A Paragraph: Charming Jones (Anne Margaret) has to make it from the Train Station to her ancestral homestead to collect her inheritance. The Handsome Stranger (Arnie) acts as her escort and bodyguard. Cactus Jack (Kirk Douglas) has been hired to stop them both
You can see why Arnie thought this would be a good career move in 1979. Kirk Douglas and Anne Margaret are Hollywood royalty and director Hal Needham was hot back then too. Smokey & The Bandit was the 2nd highest grossing movie of 1977 (second only to Star Wars) and Hooper (again Starring Burt Reynolds) was the 6th highest grossing of 1978.
The problem was both stars were considered past their glory days, and Needham's success as a director was down to his work with Burt Reynolds. Once Reynolds fell from the A List, Needham only directed two more theatrical releases. This movie is littered with nods to Reynolds and Smokey & The Bandit.
If you realise it's intended as a spoof of Westerns and Wile E Coyote cartoons, it has its moments and can raise a smile now and again. But Needham isn't a good director, his movies are always full of silly mistakes. Douglas seems to be having fun sending the cowboy image up, and Anne Margaret was still as gorgeous as ever. But Arnie's performance as the dim witted Handsome Stranger is a fun one.
A lot of people didn't get the joke, and it failed at the box office. Needham's first failure at the Box Office as a director. Coincidentally it's the first movie he directed that didn't star Reynolds.
The movie warrants just a couple of lines in Arnie's autobiography. He admits he took the role simply for more experience in front of the camera, and says "My character was called Handsome Stranger, and the rest of the movie was just as lame."
The failure of this movie didn't really hurt anybody involved, Kirk Douglas and Anne Margaret still continued to act regularly, Hal Needham made Smokey & The Bandit 2 and Arnie.... Well his next theatrical release was a movie called Conan The Barbarian.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just saw The Villain for the first time and i got to say the 0% at Rotten Tomatoes is so freaking wrong. This is basically a Cartoon with Kirk Douglas as Coyote chasing Arnold Schwarzenegger & Ann Margret who could be described as Road Runner 'Beep Beep' it's pretty funny how the ending used the Bugs Bunny Theme which i found hilarious. If people except logic they will definitely be disappointed but for everyone else who appreciated the cartoons and need to laugh a little bit then this movie is for you all. Arnold as Handsome Stranger was the best part of the movie for me he was hilarious and not your typical Arnold movie to see him in and Kirk Douglas as Cactus Jack was great as well and pretty funny. If you love Arnold Movies you definitely going to love this one also.
Kirk Douglas and Arnold Schwarzenegger did a movie together?! Yeah, I
couldn't believe it at first ether. But that's only the tip the ice
berg of bizarreness. It's also live action Road Runner cartoon! So
let's sum this up: "One of the all time Hollywood greats and the
granddaddy of cheesy action movies team up for a live action road
runner cartoon." How did this movie bypass me for so long?!
Douglas wasn't as a big a star as he once was by the 70's, so did he take this role due to lack of superior film offerings or was he not ashamed to show that he had a sense of humour about himself. It's also worth noting the relationship he has with his horse in this movie, very reminiscent of another Kirk Douglas film, Lonely are the Brave. I'm not sure if Arnold Schwarzenegger's lines are intentionally or unintentionally funny. The scene in which he narrates a flashback about when he tried to stop a bunch of horses from injuring woman, children and old men while trying his hardest to emote cracks me up.
The main problem with Cactus Jack is that the jokes are very hit and miss. At 85 minutes it's already a short movie, but even then it could have trimmed down to meet the requirements of its high concept premise. The road runner inspired gags are undoubtedly the highlight. By far my favourite gag is the classic painting a tunnel onto the side of a rock. Of course having this gag in a cartoon is funny itself, however I think having it played out in live action is even funnier in the sense that I couldn't believe they were doing a live action rendition of this joke, having me pondering if that the carriage would really go through that painted tunnel. However is it just me or does the very last gag in the film makes no sense? Why is Kirk Douglas laying a trail of gun powder into a shed full of dynamite when he's using this shed as a hideout...oh never mind. On the whole it's a flawed film, but it is Kirk Douglas and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a live action cartoon. Do I even need to say anymore? This is the type of film I could watch more than once purely based on its novelty value.
I remember seeing this movie when I was a young boy back in the 80's
sometime, and I happened to came across it by sheer luck on Amazon, and
of course I just had to add it to my DVD collection, because I had
nothing but fond memories of this western comedy.
So it was with a great sense of nostalgia that I sat down to watch "Cactus Jack" again once the DVD dropped in from Amazon. And it was just every bit as much fun as I remembered it to be back in my youth.
The story in "Cactus Jack" is fairly simple, Cactus Jack Slade (played by Kirk Douglas) is chasing after the money, hoping to get it from Charming Jones (played by Ann-Margret) and Handsome Stranger (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Imagine this being a live-action version of the classic Roadrunner cartoon, and you know what you are in for here. And it actually works out well enough.
There is a lot of funny moments and situations throughout the movie, lots of slapstick humor here.
It was sort of surreal to see Schwarzenegger in that sky-blue outfit though, however, it just added to the comedy and spoof.
All in all, "Cactus Jack" is a good comedy, and it is really a treat to see Schwarzenegger in a role like this.
.....The Villain! For those of you who really like Funny Westerns, you'll be in for a treat!! Released in 1979 (the year I graduated from Sunnyside High School), this is the story of a very pretty woman by the name of "charmin" (Ann-Margaret) who inherited a large sum of money & is escorted by family friend "handsome stranger" (Arnold Schwartznegger) into town to collect her money & to protect her. Along the way, "The Villain" (Kirk Douglas) along with is horse "Whiskey" tries to kidnap "charmin" and .....well, tries.....and tries......and tries. Some of the shenanigens "The Villain" goes thru is just Too Funny! This movie is a bit special to me because it was filmed at the Old Tucson Studios in my hometown of Tucson, AZ. before it was partially destroyed by fire. Along with Kirk Douglas, Ann-Margaret & Arnold Schwartznegger, it also stars a bunch of other known actors . . . . including Paul Lynde who plays "Nervous Elk" (or how he sez it - - Nerrrvous Elk). The Villain is a Wildy Funny Western that's sure to entertain. If you haven't done so, make this movie a part of your collection! Enjoy!!
I'm the first to admit it, this movie was highly enjoyable to me as a
child, unfortunately more recent viewings have led me to believe that
one of my childhood favorites is little more than a bunch of silly
cartoonish scenes strung together by a wafer thin plot.
Nothing wrong with silly though and the slapstick nature of this film, although woefully made still raises a smile, even if it is a chuckle at the appalling film-making. It looks like it was made on a budget of $5, and to be honest I wouldn't be surprised if they got change.
Kirk Douglas and Arnold Schwarzenegger head up the cast, Arnie playing the handsome stranger (yes, that's his characters name) and Kirk as Cactus Jack, a cowboy on the search of money. Kirk's career had gone slightly off the rails by the looks of the work he was outputting at this point and this was probably another nail in the coffin of an already outdated movie star.
It's a long way from Spartacus, but if you don't enjoy it then maybe your kids will.
Give it a go but don't say I didn't warn you.
This wasn't a BAD movie, it was just a 30-minute short film stretched to 90 minutes with l-l-o-o-o-o-o-n-n-n-g-g-g-g periods of empty camera work. Like 15 minutes of Arnold riding in a wagon without talking while a mildly pleasant song plays. Someone should edit this film down to the 30 minutes of actual scripted dialog, and release it as a made-for-TV film. Some of the jokes were really kinda clever, like the horse "Whiskey" dangling Kirk Douglas over the precipice, or when Arnold reveals to Ann Margaret that his name is "Handsome Stranger" because he was named after his father (groan). The gags are mostly reminiscent of the kind found in Bugs Bunny movies, and if the fluff were removed, this could be a clever, if much shorter, little comedy.
I think those who have only bad comments to say about this movie have watched it wearing blinkers. The Villian (Cactus Jack)is a slapstick comedy and by and large it is funny; predictable but nevertheless funny. But what makes it different from other adult comedies such as It's A Mad...Mad World, is the fact that the majority of the players in The Villian have been taken out of the genre in which cinema-goers are used to to seeing them perform (drama/thriller), while the opposite is the case in IaMMMMW (Spencer Tracey being the exception). All in all Douglas, Ann-Margaret and Arnie have put on a good show to provide us with some good entertainment. As for Paul Lynde his hilariuosly funny character was so far removed from reality no native American should ever feel grieved. Not a movie to dissect - a movie to enjoy!
It ain't all bad. Yes, the Villain suffers from poor scene transition and inferior editing, but it's got its moments, especially if you enjoyed the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner show on Saturday mornings. The only thing missing was the big wooden crates with ACME stenciled on the side, and a pair of jet-powered skis. And I'll second one reviewer's comments on Paul Lynde- the guy was golden in everything he did. Funny thing... I hope I'm not the only one who noticed that Arnold's accent is as thick now as it was 24 years ago.
I first saw this movie many years ago on TV and thought the movie was just a joke on a TV show. Now it's not David Memmott, but then again, I laugh hysterically at WB cartoons. I don't think this movie was supposed to be taken seriously. Kirk Douglas is excellent as the villain while Whiskey gave a very underrated performance. Mel Tillis was great as the "Porky Pig" character. With all the sight gags and their predicatable outcomes, the ending was the best with Ann Margaret choosing Douglas over Arnold. For those that wrote lengthy barbs at how this is the worst movie ever, I would like to quote Sgt. Hulka..."Lighten Up, Francis." It was a spoof movie. I enjoyed it.
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