Nun Sara (Shirley MacLaine) is on the run in Mexico and is saved from cowboys by Hogan (Clint Eastwood), who is preparing for a future mission to capture a French fort. The pair become good friends, but Sara never does tell him the true reason behind her being outlawed.
A hard but mediocre cop is assigned to escort a prostitute into custody from Las Vegas to Phoenix, so that she can testify in a mob trial. But a lot of people are literally betting that they won't make it into town alive.
Joe Kidd (Clint Eastwood) is a former bounty hunter and all-around tough-guy in the American southwest. When a band of Mexicans find their U.S. land claims denied and all relevant records destroyed in a courthouse fire, they turn to force-of-arms. Luis Chama (John Saxon) is their charismatic leader, spouting revolutionary rhetoric and demanding land reform. A wealthy landowner with interests in the disputed area, Frank Harlan (Robert Duvall), decides to settle things his own way. He hires a band of killers and wants Joe Kidd to help them track Chama. Initially, Kidd wants to avoid any involvement, until Chama makes the mistake of stealing Kidd's horses and terrorizing his friends.Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Perhaps it's expectations regarding the talent assembled here that make one feel somewhat underwhelmed: the screenplay is by Elmore Leonard, the direction by John Sturges, and genre veteran Clint Eastwood is the star. Ultimately, the story never really catches fire, and there's not much in the film that's memorable - save for one amusing bit of business with a train. Overall, "Joe Kidd" lacks distinction, which is too bad. Eastwood is a typically low key and efficient hero, and he's backed up by a strong supporting cast. The film has the look of quality, with lovely scenery, sets & photography. Fans of the genre will find that this kills an hour and a half fairly easily.
Clint plays the title role, a former bounty hunter who's sprung from jail by a ruthless land baron, Frank Harlan (Robert Duvall). Harlan wants a man eliminated: Mexican revolutionary Luis Chama (John Saxon), who wants to dispute land ownership. Joe reluctantly saddles up with Harlans' associates, only to have a change of heart when he sees how cold blooded they are. He and Chama reach an understanding and begin to do battle with Harlan and company.
Duvall is a worthy antagonist, and he does a nice job of underplaying his role. Saxon has a commanding presence, and Stella Garcia is delightful as the feisty Helen Sanchez. Don Stroud, James Wainwright, and Paul Koslo are all great fun as Harlans' goons, especially Stroud as he gets increasingly flustered. It's also nice to see other familiar faces such as Gregory Walcott as the sheriff, Dick Van Patten as the hotel manager, Joaquin Martinez as Manolo, and Ron Soble as Ramon.
Bruce Surtees's cinematography is noteworthy, and Lalo Schifrin contributes an excellent score.
While this doesn't measure up to classic Clint Westerns, it's still reasonably engaging.
Seven out of 10.
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