In 1864, due to frequent Apache raids from Mexico into the U.S., a Union officer decides to illegally cross the border and destroy the Apache, using a mixed army of Union troops, Confederate POWs, civilian mercenaries, and scouts.
A pair of grizzled frontiersmen fight Indians, guzzle liquor and steal squaws in their search for a legendary valley 'so full of beaver that they jump right into your traps' in this fanciful adventure.
Will Penny, an aging cowpoke, takes a "line-rider" job on a vast cattle ranch requiring him to keep trespassers and squatters moving until they're off the property. Ironically, he discovers that the mountain cabin reserved for the line rider has been appropriated by Catherine Allen and her young son, Horace, whose guide has deserted them en route to Oregon to join Catherine's husband. Too soft-hearted and ashamed to kick mother and child out just as the bitter Rocky Mountains winter sets in, he agrees to share the cabin until the spring thaw. But it isn't just the snow that slowly thaws; lonely man and woman soon forget their considerable dissimilarities and start developing a deep, if awkward and unstated, love for each another. Beyond this, Horace finds in Will the father he's never known, and Will finds in Horace the son he's never known he's wanted. The trio's little refuge is then invaded by Bible-quoting preacher Quint and his murderous family of "rawhiders", who'd earlier ...Written by
Very good western by Tom Gries with a fabulous Charlton Heston as middling-age cowboy
A mature range-wandering loner named Will Penny (Charlton Heston) gets a job as cattle drive cowboy when he encounters his isolated cabin in high mountains is already occupied by a love-hungry mother (Joan Hackett) and her young son , they have appropriated when their guide to Oregon has deserted them. Too ashamed to kick the frontier husbandless and child out just as the cold winter of the mountains sets in, he lets to share the booth until the spring slowly thaws. Both of them developing a warm and touching relationship . But when Penny offends a family of outlaws (Donald Pleasence , Bruce Dern) they seek vengeance , come after him and menace his happiness along with the mother and her son.
Wonderful performance by Charlton Heston as aging cowboy , he considers this movie his personal best giving a realistic portrayal . Joan Hackett is memorably over-the-top as as the woman who forms a strong axis to Heston. Marvelous relationship between the lonely man and the mother who soon forget their mutual hostility and start developing a deep love for one another. Magnificent plethora of secondaries as Bruce Dern ,Ben Johnson , Slim Pickens , Anthony Zerbe , William Shallert , Luke Askew and special mention to Donald Pleasence as psychotic preacher , and introducing Lee Majors. Superbly photographed by Lucien Ballard on spectacular outdoors from Bishop and Inyo County California . Evocative musical score by David Raksin with emotive song at the beginning and the ending titled ¨the lone rider¨ .This elegiac motion picture is stunningly directed by Tom Gries though flopped in theatres . Tom was an expert director of Western as¨Breakheart pass¨ , ¨100 Rifles¨ ,and ¨Will Penny¨ that is the best work ever made ; Gries also directed other successes as ¨Breakout¨, ¨The glass house¨ and TV series as ¨QBVII¨ . Rating : Above average . Worthwhie watching .
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