Directed by Robert Aldrich (1961) Starring: Kirk Douglas, Rock Hudson, Dorothy Malone, Joseph Cotten
This is officially the most ridiculous movie I’ve seen all year. At first, I had thought: “Oh hey, a western with Kirk Douglas playing a man in black and Joseph Cotten as a drunk rancher? Sign me up!” The first half is pretty much what I was expecting– O’Malley (Douglas) rides into the ranch of John Breckenridge (Cotten), offering himself as a cowboy for their cattle drive. He has two conditions: One-fifth of the cattle and Breckenridge’s wife (Malone). O’Malley and Belle had a thing before he became an outlaw, but now she’s married with a daughter, Melissa.
O’Malley has been followed into Mexico by Dana Stribling (Hudson), a Texan sheriff who wants to bring O’Malley to justice for killing his brother-in-law. He gets roped into helping the cattle drive, on the condition that he’ll arrest O’Malley at the border. Stribling falls for Belle on the trip and wants to marry her in Texas.
I just realized that this could have been a really interesting love-rectangle plot, but noooo Breckenridge has to get killed by some fellow Virginians in some damn bar fight. And there goes half the reason I’m watching this movie…
Post-Breckenridge’s passing, the second act is pretty much run of the mill Western fare. Rock Hudson is so macho-honorable, it almost gave me a tooth ache. Kirk Douglas does his usual anti-hero charm, which is cool, if he wasn’t working it on the mother and the daughter. Meanwhile, the women have next to nothing to do (it’s a Western).
I was hoping for something consistently ridiculous and action-related, but the third act takes a dip in the creepy-psychosis area of the swimming pool. It had been building up to it the entire movie, but I was also hoping for it to not take the shame-road. Oh, movie, you didn’t have to slum in that way! You could have come out of this with a little bit of dignity.
That said, several amazing drinking games could be played while watching.