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The Red Headed one was never stranger (or better)
Iammymothersdaughter211 September 2001
From the quirky opening scenes in this film (a photographer, a dead guy propped up in a pine box & various family members posing w/same)you are taken to an intriguing and rather unsettling place. The cinematography in the film suggests one of those cool(albeit weird) 'spaghetti westerns'. The director's vision comes through, chillingly well at times all throughout this film.

Willie Nelson's performance is, well what can you say except he is his consummate Willie-ness and in this film it works particularly well. Gary Busey's interpretation of his role as Karl is understated and approaches absolute perfection. The remainder of the cast turn in very respectable performances as well. This is another one of those films that you really need to watch several times to "get" the full effect. There are some subtle and not-so-subtle plot twists and themes that are really engrossing and entertaining to watch for. The one and only negative I found with this movie is a personal distaste for the (over)use of the expletive 'G.D.' - it's totally unnecessary and my Southern Baptist ears were ringing by the end of the film. Overall though this is one awesome film, and 'G.D.' notwithstanding, I've worn my copy just about out. It is most definitely worth looking for.
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22 Years LATER I find out.....
John Jennings12 July 2004
Back when this film came out (1982), a friend told me it was no good, Willie Nelson can't act, blah, blah, blah. I took that at face value, and blew the film off. Well, 22 years later, 'Barbarosa' is on cable on American Movie Classics on a hot July afternoon, there isn't nothing' else on, so I say, okay, I'll give it fifteen minutes to get my attention.

Well, I gotta say, 'Barbarosa just BLEW ME AWAY!

I am Texan born and bred, and have done a fair amount of inquiry into old Texas lore, and this film is just SO RIGHT in so many details. In recent films like 'Cold Mountain', 'Open Range', and 'The Missing', it is much in vogue to get the 19th century period details exactly right. Well, 'Barbrosa' knocked that ball out of the park 22 years ago!

The basic feel of the old Texas homesteads and the horse race and barbecue, they still existed much like that out in West Texas when I was a kid.

The basic plot line is about two converging family blood feuds, one Spanish, the other German American, that is so TOTALLY authentic for this period! Also, the Big Bend scenics are superb!

While some may question Willie's talent for treading the boards, he has no problemo playing himself, and doesn't miss a beat. Gary Busey is one of my favorite actors, despite a habit of making tons of low budget el crappo films. He is at the top of his game in 'Barbarosa'.

While the film does have it's quirky moments, it is basically believable, and some of those old-timers were indeed quirky.

(Warning! As for eating armadillos, don't try this at home! They CAN carry leprosy.) My only beef is that the musical score didn't always seem to match the dramatic action, the music is wry and whimsical at the wrong time, possibly aping some spaghetti Western, but is fine when it sticks to Spanish guitar.

Some have labeled 'Barbarosa' a spaghetti Western. I don't agree, though it may seem so in the historical sequence of film-making. This was a successful attempt to make an authentically period Texas border film, by folks who knew what they are doing.

Some find the gunplay subdued and 'unrealistic', but 'Barbarosa' rightly shows the reality of old west killing where setting up the bushwhack and sniffing the ambush were far more decisive than actually pulling of the trigger.

In the old man's tale, you learn that Barbarosa was originally a Texas Ranger, who were often called los diablo's (the devils) by border Mexicans. This was a REAL legend, indeed a reality, down on the border.
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One of the best films no one ever saw.
quinletc7 September 2005
This obscure Western was one of my favorite movies as a kid. It was a box office sleeper, but with the advent of HBO, it achieved a cult following - at one point it was the most-requested movie on HBO. While this must mean that a large number of people watched the movie, everyone I know who has seen it saw it on my TV.

Willie Nelson, not someone I think of as an actor, is excellent. Gary Busey, in the height of his coke-head days, turns in another wonderful performance. Truth be told, all of the actors are perfect. The story is different, as the previous reviewer pointed out, from all the other Westerns, and the cinematography is unbelievable.

Definitely a movie to rent or buy.
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A Western with an original storyline
bigsix27 February 2004
We've have seen all of the formula Westerns; evil cattle baron, reformed gunslinger, alcoholic sheriff,damsel in distress, kind but shrewd gambler. It goes on and on. How about real history-like the way Texas was in the 19th century. It was a center of lawlessness and the golden rule, "them that has the gold makes the rules" more interesting than any screen writer could imagine. How about this? Gary Busey playing a second generation German American farm boy being pursued by Old World family members to avenge a death. Ironically, he teams up with Willie Nelson to escape his executioners only to find that Willy is being pursued by Mexicans who call him "Barbarosa".

Busey is excellent as the farm boy and Nelson just plays himself in this unique Western that appears to utilize great scenery to include authentic 19th century farmhouses and a great plot. Gilbert Roland, in a classic supporting role, plays the elder of the Mexicans who utilizes his respect in the Mexican community to whip up hatred towards "Barbarosa".

This acknowledges that Texas, like the rest of the U.S., was formed and shaped by many ethnic groups. A great movie and entertainment.
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Where is the original cut of this movie?
GEJKRS7 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The first time I saw this movie it had a scene in it where Don Brajilo berates the returning Eduardo for killing Barbarosa and explains that the feud with Barbarosa was his way of deliberately pumping up the family to make something of itself, and asks Eduardo what he will do to keep the family going when it is his turn to be patrone. Am I the only one who ever saw this cut? It makes the rest of the movie make sense. Otherwise why does Don Bralijo make such an terrible attack on his adoptive son and new son-in-law, Barbarosa? Why does Eduardo cry out "Barbarosa" at the celebration, when he knows that Barbarosa is dead---to keep the legend alive. I figure the censorship board cut it and I'm afraid there isn't a whole copy left. I didn't imagine this!
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A Great Western and an Examination of Myth
ccbc29 April 2004
Barbarosa is one of the best westerns ever made. The subject here is myth and the people who become mythic heroes. Barbarosa is, on the one hand, a legendary bandit and, on the other, an ordinary Texan who steals for a living: "Cattle, horses...Anything except sheep. You couldn't give me one of those wooly bastards." A young man on the run becomes Barbarosa's companion, then his acolyte. Both men are looking for a place in the world and the role they find is that of outlaw hero, players in a mythic drama that gives them meaning. The myth is that of the Outlaw Lover ( as in Hughes' The Outlaw or Brando's One-Eyed Jacks ) and both Nelson and Busey play their roles to perfection. The directing is excellent and the dialogue nigh perfect -- a great western! A swell movie!
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Wonderful, underrated.
tbyron31 March 2004
I've seen this movie several times over the years, since it first came out on VHS. All of the people in and behind this movie should do more movies like this, again...Schepisi has the confidence to let this story tell itself at its in own pace. Although the plot may seem to skip over key details, I really feel that Schepisi was only trusting in the audience's intelligence and ability to piece the puzzle together. The way he presents the different approaches of the families' blood rivalries is particularly subtle . Busey is amazingly lively. Nelson and Roland each have great screen presences, are good throughout, but particularly in their one scene together. I enjoy this movie everytime I see it.
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A great western
MdniteCruiser5 May 2003
I have been an avid watcher of the western genre since I was a kid. I grew up watching Roy Rogers, Zorro, and the Lone Ranger on TV and watching John Wayne, Gary Cooper, and Clint Eastwood in the theaters. A lot of westerns end up being remakes of previous outings, so when someone comes up with something original, I take notice. This is one such movie and it is one of my all time favorites.

While Willie Nelson will never get an Oscar for acting, he plays himself brilliantly ... and he's perfect for this part. And Gary Busey does a fine job playing a farm boy turned outlaw. Their relationship grows with each scene and draws you into it until you are emotionally connected with them both.

This movie is definitely not for the folks who want non-stop action with guns blazing from the opening scene until the final credits, but if you like a slower paced movie that takes it's time building it's characters and drawing you into their lives, this movie is for you.
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One of the greatest!
ragreen2595 January 2006
First, I have to say, the very first person to review this movie on IMDb apparently is only attracted to violence in movies, and doesn't want to try to actually see the story line. More explosions! More dead people, and they need to be literally blown apart! Death! Fire! Without it, all movies suck! I notice that everyone else pretty much says the exact opposite. Odd, how at a later date, every review has an "unhelpful" flag next to it.

The story woven in Barbarosa is an excellent one, and no one could've pulled off the title role except Willie. The eventual transformation of Karl, from naive farm boy on the run into Barbarosa himself, is astonishing, everything from the way he looks to the way he sounds. Rancho life is authentically depicted, as is the West Texas farm life of the period... and the "eye for an eye" mentality of the people involved, and it's tragic consequences is a lesson hidden away in the storyline, almost as an afterthought. The photography is incredible, and at times the music is is almost overwhelming.

" ain't got enough ass in your britches to kill Barbarosa..."

See it.
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How legends are made.
strickd16 June 2002
This movie was apparently never released in theaters. Not sure why. It is in my top 100 westerns. I watch it every year or so, and see something new every time. Willie Nelson is appropriately understated. Busey is perfect for his role.
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bastillee13 August 2004
To my mind, this is the best western ever made. Willie Nelson and Gary Busey were born to play these parts. I have always loved Willie Nelson's music, and now there is another side of him that I can admire. As for Busey, I will forever love him just for having made this film. There is a sadness to the film but the ending is so uplifting. It is clear that the Zavalas need Barbarosa as much as he needs them. I saw Barbarosa during its original release and have been in love with it ever since. Even though I have Barbarosa on tape, I watch this movie whenever it is on TV. The soundtrack is fabulous and I wish it were available in the stores. Thumbs up for Barbarosa!
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Extra scenes
radnar12311 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Has anyone but my wife and myself seen this film with at least one or more extra scenes. When Eduardo returns home and tells Don Braulio that Barbarosa is dead, the Don gets up and slaps Eduardo and yells at him. This scene, which I saw maybe twice but probably only once, just makes so much more sense to me than the normal one that it blows my mind that it was cut. Please someone tell me that I'm not crazy that the scene really did exist and why only the cut version is shown. By the way, in my opinion this is not only one of the finest westerns that I have ever seen, but one of the best movies of all time. I am currently a projectionist and I have seen many a film. I also used to be a counselor at a facility for youthful offenders and used many lines of dialog from Barbarosa to help my residents get over some problems they were having. Also simply plot elements. The film is a classic and deserves much more recognition than it has had. "If you're waiting on me, you're wastin time."
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Intertwining Family Feuds
bkoganbing17 October 2007
The title role of Barbarosa is played by Willie Nelson and he's a former Texas Ranger turned outlaw who's on the run from his various crimes and from his in-laws who don't like him very much. They resent this Anglo marrying into their family and family patriarch Gilbert Roland got his leg shot off while trying to break up that marriage. He's lost several other family members in trying to kill Nelson to avenge that.

But Nelson picks up Gary Busey a farm kid on the run from a feud himself because he accidentally killed his brother-in-law. Busey takes up with Nelson and his outlaw ways and the two become an amiable pair.

Judging by the other reviewers Barbarosa seems to have a bit of a following. I wouldn't call it great by any means, still it's certainly entertaining enough for the discriminating western fans.

Barbarosa's significance to me is that it is the farewell performance of Gilbert Roland whose career went back six decades into the silent era when he was touted as a would be Valentino successor. His career never quite fit that mold, but he was always a favorite of mine. The part as the family patriarch is not the usual carefree, but tough Gilbert that we usually see. He's an understandably bitter man in this film and it was a good performance to go out on.

Western fans won't mind this one and Nelson and Busey have a nice chemistry between them.
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This is the story that Zorro can only try to be
daddio4515 December 2004
Seeing a negative review (one of two posted here out of the 12 so far) at the top of the list for this tremendously moving work of mythical story-telling has moved me to post this.

It would be redundant to say anything more than has already been stated in the many insightful and intelligent comments to be found in those ten other reviews, all of which are well worth reading.

All I can say in closing has also been stated a thousand times before: there is no accounting for taste and thank goodness that in this case, if only for just once, I may happily throw my hat into the ring with the majority--even if it should first have to be stolen off the head of one of the Zavalas while he is sleeping. ;-)
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Gary Busey walks away with this one...
doghouse-829 August 2001
This films drifts along through some absolutely gorgeous western scenery. The cinematography is beautifully done, and is one of the finer points of this movie. The storyline is pretty episodic, and many plot points are glossed over without much explanation. Willie Nelson (Barbarosa) has some good scenes, along with Gilbert Roland who plays his revengeful father-in-law, but Gary Busey steals the show as Carl, the hard luck "farmboy". It's not the greatest movie ever made, but I enjoyed watching it......more like a fable than a western. 6/10
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Obscure epic.
Robert R Jackson10 August 2003
Back when this movie came out Siskel and Ebert were still on PBS doing "Sneak Previews" and I remember them recommending it. Back then I frequently went to see less mainstream films on their recommendation and this was one that always stuck with me. Recently it came out on DVD and I picked up a copy. It has managed to stand the test of time pretty well over these last couple of decades.

The story is almost Shakespearean in scope and the pacing isn't as fast as most audiences seem to demand, but there's a lot there for the patient viewer.

Barbarosa (played by Willie Nelson) and Karl (played by Gary Busey) have both been involved in killings that have turned families against them. They meet in the wilderness and slowly form a friendship, each having some empathy for the life the other leads as a hunted man. As the movie progresses we learn more about the situation each man finds himself in. The movie doesn't offer any easy answers and it doesn't wrap things up neatly and address every question an audience might have. In the end, it becomes more of a meditation on how these men have lived their lives than any kind of morality play (which seems to be what the western is often used to convey).

The acting is all top-notch, the sets, locations and costumes are perfect. Even little things like the way Busey calls, "Hello to the house." in one scene are perfect (my grandmother told stories of her father approaching homes that way back in 'horse and buggy days'). The movie also features Gilbert Roland in his last role.

This is a film that reconciles the legend of the old west with its realities and becomes more powerful as a result. It meets somewhere in the middle and works in a style all its own. It's a pity the DVD is only available as a pan-and-scan disc, but it's still certainly worth owning. At the very least, see if you can rent it. I notice Netflix has it in stock.

If you love westerns, you're sure to enjoy this one.
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Two gunfighters, Nelson and Busey, constantly on the run, unite forces against their pursuers
ma-cortes30 March 2009
A legendary outlaw(Willie Nelson) join forces with a youngest(Gary Busey) who converts his protégé. One was a legend the other would become one, both are usually on the lam and pursued by vengeful men caused for family blood feud carried out by Don Braulio (Gilbert Roland).

This gentle western contains action-Western, adventures, pursuits and brief touch of comedy about the enjoyable relationship between master and pupil. Most of the action of this modest Western takes place on breathtaking outdoors similarly to marvelous landscapes of the majestic John Ford .Packs a light touch in the wake of ¨Paul Newman- Robert Redford's Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid¨ adding a little bit of violence.There are some good action scenes that can fit in the previous film.The straightforward screenplay and unglamorous production give a true feeling of the Old West set in Texas. The performances by outcast, free-spirited Willie Nelson and Gary Busey do bring pleasure. Nelson shows the many sides of his spirited character.Australian director Fred Schepisi has flavorfully directed a nice and interesting Western.His greatest hits took place in the 80s such as proved in ¨Iceman,Plenty,Roxanne,Cry in the dark¨¨and of course ¨Barbarosa¨.For sheer spirit-lifting entertainment you can't do better that watching this picture.
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Well worth your time.
Scott LeBrun3 December 2016
"Barbarosa" stars the great country singer Willie Nelson in the title role: a self-styled outlaw, who makes the acquaintance of bumbling former farmboy Karl (Gary Busey). Karl has accidentally killed his brother in law, and now he's on the lam. Barbarosa isn't particularly looking for a sidekick or a protégé, but he and the eager-to-please Karl forge a strong friendship. As they go around committing robberies, there is a nemesis from Barbarosas' past, Don Braulio (Gilbert Roland) who is eager to put an end to his days.

Australian filmmaker Fred Schepisi made his American debut with this thoughtful and likable film, a very nicely shot combination of character study and Western drama. It examines the nature of myths and legends - how they get started, and how they endure. It's intelligent, fairly violent but never overly gory, and fairly visceral. The screenplay by William D. Wittliff has some good lines, and gives us a story and characters worth caring about. It also isn't afraid to make us fill in the gaps, instead of blatantly spelling everything out for us.

Nelson is a natural pick for the lead. Barbarosa is somewhat ornery, but basically good hearted, and a feisty and colorful person to boot. Busey's rarely been more appealing, and he and Nelson get some fine chemistry going as their personalities clash. The ladies (Isela Vega, Alma Martinez) are absolutely lovely and are very appealing themselves. Roland, a veteran of Hollywoods' Golden Age, still had a powerful screen presence, and his antagonist is no one dimensional bogeyman. There are also some first rate actors in other supporting roles: Danny De La Paz, George Voskovec as the vengeful Herman Pahmeyer, Howland Chamberlain, Harry Caesar, Kai Wulff, and father and son character actors Roberto and Luis Contreras.

Best of all, this film manages to make its points and explore its themes while also wrapping up in a reasonable amount of time (90 minutes all told). It's all gorgeously shot (by Ian Baker) and wonderfully scored (by Bruce Smeaton).

Buseys' son Jake has a tiny role as a "cook boy".

Eight out of 10.
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Excellent Western
Woodyanders1 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Naïve, but eager farmhand Karl Westover (a fine and amiable performance by Gary Busey) goes on the lam after he accidentally kills his brother-in-law. Karl befriends shrewd and resourceful outlaw Barbarosa (wonderfully played with tremendous rascally charm by Willie Nelson), who teaches Karl how to survive in the wild.

Director Fred Schepisi offers a flavorsome and meticulous evocation of a past time and place, relates the story at a measured pace, makes the most out of the dusty and desolate Tex-Mex prairie frontier setting, and puts a welcome and refreshing emphasis on people over action. William D. Wittliff's provides a wealth of witty dialogue and a surprisingly intricate narrative in which the relationships between the various clearly delineated characters are quite compelling and complicated. Moreover, the natural and engaging chemistry between Nelson and Busey gives this picture a winning surplus of pure heart and appeal; they receive sturdy support from Isela Vega as Barbarosa's lusty estranged wife Josephina, Gilbert Roland as the vengeful Don Braulio, Danny De La Paz as the angry and relentless Eduardo, George Voskovec as the vindictive Herman Pahmeyer, Alma Martinez as the sweet Juanita, and Luis Contreras as slimy bandito Angel. Both Ian Baker's crisp widescreen cinematography and Bruce Smeaton's harmonic score are up to par. A real sleeper.
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acting duo functional
SnoopyStyle12 July 2015
Karl Westover (Gary Busey) is a runaway Texas farm boy. His brothers want to bring him back but he follows bandit Barbarosa (Willie Nelson) instead. He is conflicted about robbing the poor. A Mexican bandit kills his brothers and shoots Barbarosa. Barbarosa survives and the duo escape with gold. However Karl and Barbarosa are both hunted men.

Willie Nelson lacks the acting power to be a feared bandit and Gary Busey's character is way too stupid. It's not cute and funny naivety. It's annoying stupid. I wonder if throwing away the gold is suppose to be comical. It's not bad as a desolate desert western but I want more tension. It moves a bit too slow.
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Fathers, sons and death
anneandwalt-127 November 2009
Barbarosa is a terrific western, very under-rated, and easily deserving a higher place in the pantheon of oaters.

Many posters correctly point out the film's theme of legend-building, how the myth of the Barbarosa started and grows.

But there's another key and tragic element to this fine film - the cost young men must pay to fuel their fathers' hatred and rivalries. The sons of both German settler and Mexican patriach must sacrifice their very lives, attempting to settle old scores for fathers.

Sadly, it's an all-too-familiar story for mankind, as generations of old men seem all-too-willing to sacrifice flesh and blood for notions of revenge and honor. Great flick.
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Most Boring Western Ever
stefan89917 October 2001
As a western, this movie was so dull and tedious. It has none of the charisma of Young Guns nor the adventure of the Good, Bad and Ugly. There were no gunfire duals, in fact hardly any guns fired at all. What little action there was just showed people falling down after a few gun shots fired. No blood no wounds. Willie Nelson looked too old and too tired for his role. He looked nothing like the supposed "menacing and bloodthirsty" Barbarosa. My vote a 1 out of 10.
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Oliver-501 September 2006
There is something genuinely sweet and innocent about Willie Nelson – even though he wasn't even fifty yet while filming Barbarosa he already has the worn, tough, aged face of a man twenty years older than he, and yet he has the eyes of a puppy dog. He is the perfect man to play the legendary thief Barbarosa, a man who is feared by many but whom the audience must like immediately. Gary Busey playing the farm boy Carl seems a little too old for this role (he was pushing late 30's) but is terrific as well.

Barbarosa is a light, easy-going film, with some occasional moments of violence. That's really the best praise aside from the actors that I can give it. It's obvious where the film is headed once the two protagonists meet up; every step of the movie has been mapped out. Luckily the film only runs 90 minutes so it's never dragged out. Quite the opposite; Barbarosa tends to dabble in so many little thoughts that they all seem meshed together.

Part of the film wants to have that mysticism about Barbarosa, that perhaps he is a ghost who cannot be killed, but the film never plays with it enough. The Spaniards all know of the the legend that they whisper his name with eyes wide as he rides by…and yet nobody in Carl's town mentions Barbarosa once. Barbarosa gets shot by a group of Spaniards who are out looking for him and Carl is the one who has to bury him. It's not surprise when Barbarosa rises from the grave, but even Carl isn't all that shocked. Instead of a 'Wow, you really are invincible!' reaction, we get a 'Oh that's good, you're OK.' Maybe that's the point – that Carl accepts Barbarosa as a person, not a fable or a legend. My problem is that Carl or his town never heard of this man before Carl meets up with him…why not? They're only a few days away apparently – does Barbarosa not like that part of the country – do his people never leave town? Barbarosa is a lot of back-story and not enough of a friendship tale. The scenes with Barbarosa teaching Carl are trite and unbelievable. Carl seems to know too much too soon about being out in the wild.

Barbarosa is never exciting enough to be an adventure film and there aren't enough calmer moments for the film to develop the friendship between these characters. Instead of learning about the outlaws, each scene is about them being hunted or hated. You would think these characters would have a great deal to talk about! It's not until the very last bit of the film that we learn why Barbarosa became who he was, and it's no big surprise.

The very end of Barbarosa should have worked – it's a obvious gimmick that's tried and true, but the friendship hasn't been solidified like it should and so the ending falls flat. Barbarosa isn't a bad movie, it's that so much of the movie is like the ending - it's a nice try, but it never hits the bullseye.

**1/2 out of ****
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Strange western
helpless_dancer1 December 2001
The second half was an improvement over the first, but I never really could get into the movie. It bounced around too much, taking too long to give the viewer a grasp of what was going on. The Big Bend country was spectacular, but the film was an also ran.
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