The modern western got a kick in the pants when Clint Eastwood released the movie “Unforgiven”. Some say it injected a new reality into the western, but you can go back 20 years and see that more realistic western dramas existed that weren’t your standard “Wild West” movie. Amongst them is the often overlooked Blake Edward’s film, Wild Rovers (now available on DVD from the Warner Archive). I know what you are thinking, this film involves a bank robbery, how is that different from other westerns? Its not so much the actions the characters take that makes it different. but the morality of the movie is more ambiguous then other westerns and the injection of humor into the film is disarming and endearing. The movie is well acted and filled with great performances by Karl Malden, William Holden, Tom Skerrit and Joe Don Baker. All the characters are well written and inhabited enough that you can actually see them evolve, which is rare for a genre that is famous for its archetypes.
It is a movie well worth owning, which is why I am glad that the Warner Archive has given the film an on-demand release.
Lifelong ranch hand Ross Bodine decides cowpunching is no kind of life. So he and a raw cowboy half his age rob a bank to get the cash each needs to improve his lot. An indignant posse is soon in pursuit. Filmmaker Blake Edwards made his name with The Pink Panther and other comedies, but he also showed great skill in other genres with the thriller Experiment in Terror, the drama Days of Wine and Roses and this nuanced paean to the West. In performances perfectly matching Edwards’ balance of rowdy comedy and hardscrabble period realism, William Holden and Ryan O’Neal play the fugitive saddlebums, with Holden drawing special praise. “As he grows older, he grows better like a great old wine. All the reverberations from the previous roles are beginning to sound” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times).
Order your copy of Wild Rovers [@] Amazon