Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 1969. Wallis-Hazen. Screenplay by Marguerite Roberts, based on the novel by Charles Portis. Cinematography by Lucien Ballard. Produced by Hal B. Wallis. Music by Elmer Bernstein. Production Design by Walter H. Tyler. Costume Design by Dorothy Jeakins. Film Editing by Warren Low. Academy Awards 1969. Golden Globe Awards 1969.
John Wayne earned an Academy Award for his portrayal of a broken-down, drunk and forgotten marshal who is hired by a teenage girl (Kim Darby) to track down and bring in for hanging the man who killed her father. Wayne’s preference for a bottle of whiskey over a good day’s work constantly gets in his way of performing his duty effectively, meaning that she has to keep on top of him the whole time, but throughout their adventures a bond grows between the two that sees the ornery old coot get affectionate for the little girl that he at first resists helping. Darby is terrific as the spry young thing who knows her way around figures and negotiations and who has no fear of ordering grown men around in this respectable western. It is among the last of the good old fashioned Wild West tales made at a time when the irony of Clint Eastwood and his spaghetti westerns had taken over, and while it does not feature the tight excitement or drama of The Searchers or the rich characterizations of Rio Bravo, its sincerity makes it a welcome throwback to an earlier era. Remade to surprisingly superior effect by the Coen Brothers in 2010.