An aging group of outlaws look for one last big score as the “traditional” American West is disappearing around them.
This is one of the old classics that I have actually never watched even though we watched a lot of Westerns when I was a kid due to the fact that it is my father’s favorite movie genre. When I saw that they gave it on Turner Classic Movies yesterday evening and there was nothing else on that I really cared watching I gave it a try.
If Quentin Tarantino would have been around directing movies at the time this movie was done then this is probably the kind of movie he would have produced. It starts off with a huge gunfight where more bystanders than gunfighters are killed and it ends with another one where pretty much everyone gets shot. The gunfights are also quite violent and graphical compared to a lot of westerns. The blood splatter is plentiful and the ammo supply seems to be inexhaustible. I would assume that, at the time this film was made, it was considered extremely violent. According to the film trivia more blank rounds were discharged during the production than live rounds were fired during the Mexican revolution. In total 90 000 rounds are said to have been fired.
The film is good, there’s no question about it. William Holden and Ernest Borgnine plays their roles as aging, and somewhat disillusioned, leaders of the bunch quite well and so does Robert Ryan in the role of the tortured former member of the gang who now are forced to hunt them down. The famous “last walk” at the end of the movie leading up to the last huge shot-out is perhaps a bit of an overused Western cliché but it was fitting so well in this movie. Apparently this scene was extended and improvised as it was shot.
With 145 minutes playing time it’s quite long for a movie from the 60’s but it’s certainly 145 enjoyable minutes.