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The Jack Bull (1999)

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After being wrongfully denied justice, a horse trader seeks his own justice on a treacherous rancher.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Judge Tolliver
Henry Ballard
Cora Redding
Shelby Dykes
Atty. Gen. Metcalfe
Ollie (as Nicholas E. Gillie)
Edsel Fraser
Judge Wilkins
Col. Jeffries (as Glen Morshower)


The Jack Bull tells the story of Myrl Redding, a Wyoming horse trader who clashes with Henry Ballard, a fellow rancher, after Ballard abuses two of Myrl's horses and their Crow Indian caretaker, Billy. When Judge Wilkins throws out Myrl's complaint, the war he wages to force Ballard to nurse the emaciated animals back to health escalates into a vigilante manhunt, murder and the possible defeat of Wyoming's bid for statehood. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


All men want justice. Few are willing to pay the price.


Drama | Western

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some Western violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 April 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jack Bull  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The title is derived from the names of two dog breeds - Jack Russell and Bulldog. Myrl Redding (John Cusack) is said to have the tenacity of a Jack Russell and the strength of a bulldog when angered. See more »


At the end of the movie, Myrl is hanged using the Julian gallows and the state was celebrating Statehood. Wyoming was admitted to the United States on 10 July 1890. The gallows used to hang Mryl was invented by Cheyenne architect, James P. Julian in 1892, two years after statehood. See more »


Judge Tolliver: Myrl Redding didn't fail the law. The law failed Myrl.
See more »


Version of Michael Kohlhaas - Der Rebell (1969) See more »


Ring them Bells
Written by Bob Dylan
Performed by Bob Dylan
Courtesy of Columbia Records
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User Reviews

How far would you go for what you believe in?
12 June 2005 | by (Everman, TX, United States) – See all my reviews

This is an HBO original movie, but let me assure you this is of the caliber to have been a theatrical release.

This film makes a powerful statement about the importance of standing up for what you believe in and how you cannot just say what is right, but have the courage to take action when words fail you and see justice done, whatever the cost.

The setting is the beautiful mountains and frontier country of pre-statehood Wyoming; the man is Merle Redding (John Cusack), a simple horse trainer just trying to earn a living for him and his family; the problem is a wealthy cattle rancher named Henry Ballard (L.Q. Jones) buying up all the land between the homesteads and the nearest town. Conflict arises when Merle is taking some of his horses to town to sell at the auction and needs to pass through Ballard's new spread of land—previously unowned—as it is the only way to make it to the auction on time. And that is all I will say so as to not spoil any critical elements of the movie.

The first thing that stands out about the film is that the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. I could've done without the filters, but the sights are still something to behold. The actors are well-cast; John Cusack and John Goodman really shine in their respective roles. The screenplay (written by Dick Cusack, John Cusack's father) is well-thought out and succeeds in making the film come full circle. The characters are three-dimensional and the audience can easily relate to their individual struggles. As well, the parallel editing between Cusack's 'circumstance' and the parade for Wyoming's official statehood speaks volumes...very eloquent indeed.

This film should be a lesson to all of us to remember what's important and fight for what we believe in. We cannot settle for simply saying what is right and what should be done, but stand behind what we say. It reminds us to fight for the little guy and that one person *can* make a difference.

VERDICT: A moving film about true conviction of the heart; truly inspiring. Hands down one of the best westerns I've ever seen (which is a lot). On that note, if you don't like westerns, this probably isn't the film for you, but otherwise, it's a must-see.

8.5 out of 10.0

NOTE: To anyone who loves horses, this film will hit a particular soft spot in your heart—it certainly did for me…

8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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