By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: Chuck and the kid.
Jamie (Vincent Van Patten) is a teen runaway in the old west that comes upon an isolated horse ranch run by Chino (Charles Bronson) who is ostracized by the locals for being a ‘half-breed’. Chino reluctantly takes the boy under his wings and teaches him about how to take care of horses, but neither of them can completely escape the racism and hatred around them.
Filmed in Spain the rustic countryside has a certain visual appeal and the low-key music is a perfect score for this type of western. There is a barroom brawl and a shootout at the end, but overall this is standard stuff with little to help make it stand out. Everything this movie has to offer you’ve seen before and in most cases done better. That is not to say it is a bad movie, but it is lacking in imagination and seems content to simply borrow from an already overused formula. While the pacing isn’t exactly slow it isn’t compelling either. The characterizations, plot, and dialogue are held at the most simplistic level and if it weren’t for a brief bit of nudity by an attractive native woman I would almost say this thing was aimed solely for kids.
Bronson doesn’t show much range of emotion here and comes off in the wooden way his critics have always accused him of although he is still good in the action sequences. Jill Ireland’s appearance helps add a bit of life to the proceedings and the antagonistic banter that the two share while he tries to train her to ride a horse is fun to a minor extent as it the part where she walks in on him as he is standing buck-naked in a bathtub. However, having them fall in love so quickly and then want to get married is rushed and forced.
It is fun seeing Vincent Van Patten as a young teen, but his interaction with Bronson is dull. Their eventual ‘bonding’ is formulaic and clichéd and only helps in cementing this as a forgettable, pointless, low-budget foray.
The real stars of the picture are the horses that show much more of a screen presence than their human counterparts. In fact during the first half you see more of them than the people, which is just as well. There is even a shot showing two of them mating, which is the film’s sole unique moment and for some possibly even the highpoint.
My Rating: 3 out of 10
Released: September 14, 1973
Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes
Director: John Sturges
Studio: Intercontinental Releasing Corporation
Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video