Gone With The West (April, 1974)
Released July 2, 1975: Jud McGraw, played by James Caan, gets out of jail and takes revenge on the man and the town that killed his wife and son.
Directed by Bernard Girard
Written by Monroe Manning, Douglas Day Stewart and Marchus Demian.
The Actors: James Caan (Jud McGraw), Stefanie Powers (Little Moon), Sammy Davis Jr. (Kid Dandy), Aldo Ray (Mimmo, stage robber), Barbara Werle (Billie), Robert Walker Jr. (Sheriff of Black Miller),Heather Angel (Old Little Moon, the narrator), Mike Lane (Shark), Elmore Vincent (Jerry), L. Andy Stone (Old Jud), Elizebeth Leigh (Gail), Kenneth Adams (Artie), Michael Conrad (Smithy), Anne Barton (Smithy's wife), Paul Bergen (singing cowboy), Fred Book (piano player), Anthony Gordon (prisoner), Fabian Dean (Charlie), Gillian Simpson (Jeb's wife), Chris Calabrese (Jeb's son), Noel Drayton (wagon driver), James McHale (farmhand), Bennie E. Dobbins (prison guard), Dick Shane (prison guard), Buck Lee (prison guard), Pepper Martin (Mimmo's henchman), Charles Bail (Mimmo's henchman), Philip Kenneally (Mimmo's henchman), Boyd 'Red' Morgan (Mimmo's henchman), Al Nalbandian (Mimmo's henchman), Danny Hadeick (Mimmo's henchman), Lou Kane (Mimmo's henchman), Reed Sherman (Mimmo's henchman), Cal Currens (Mimmo's henchman), Rick Calabrese (Mimmo's henchman), Stephen Zema (Mimmo's henchman), Jay S. York (Mimmo's henchman), Ned York (Mimmo's henchman), Bill Coontz (Mimmo's henchman), Billy Hughes (Mimmo's henchman), Yoneo Iguchi (Mimmo's henchman), Fred Brookfield (Mimmo's henchman), Jerry Summers (Mimmo's henchman), Chuck Courtney (Mimmo's henchman), Whitey Hughes (Mimmo's henchman), Chuck Hayward (Mimmo's henchman), Kenny Endoso (Mimmo's henchman), Julie Ann Johnson (townswoman), Polly Burson (townswoman), Ginger Irwin (townswoman), Jojean Pageno (townswoman), Celeste Michaels (townswoman), Monya Sklar (townswoman), Lenore stevens (townswoman), Virginia Peters (townswoman), Barbara Walker (townswoman), Luanne Roberts (townswoman), Dita Nicole (townswoman), Sherise Roland (townswoman).
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Okay, . . . first I just gotta say that there are no 'rotten' movies, just 'different' movies. (tongue firmly in cheek) Every movie is a unique picture of the director's mind. Now I know that the 1960's were dominated by drugs and rock 'n roll, but this old movie is from 1975 . . . all of the drugs should have been out of the director's system by then. But after watching and enjoying the singing cowboys of the 1940's, and the tough cowboys of the 1950's, this one surprised me.
Totally. I'm glad I watched it, and wouldn't have missed it for the world. The director took all of the 'rules' for making a good cowboy western and just tossed them right out the window. But how weird could it be with James Caan fresh from being in The Godfather, and Stefanie Powers, . . . always one of my favs?
First the music. Now, many people think that the music will make or break a movie. And after 40 years of expecting a certain kind of music to accompany a cowboy western, the music in this one was a real surprise. Sometimes it reminded me of the music from Rowen and Martin's "Laugh In" when they would all be dancing, and the music would stop while someone made a witty remark, then start up again for a few seconds before the next witty remark. And sometimes it reminded me of a Snoopy movie, with Linus and Peanuts and Pigpen and Lucy running around. And sometimes it was good ole' honky tonk bar music that wasn't too bad. There was one cowboy that had a marvelous voice that sang at every funeral . . . and there were lots of funerals. Now the fellow that sang the opening and closing tune . . . you can have him, 'cause I don't want him, he's no good I think.
Now the plot: Jud McGraw (James Caan), is getting out of prison in what looks like a military fort, and is being beaten as he goes. Meanwhile, we look at a woman and young boy cowering in front of their burning home, with a laughing bad guy (Aldo Ray as Mimmo - pronounced 'm-ee-mo') who shoots the woman and child as they cower. This is Jud's wife and son, and he discovers only the burned remains of their home and a couple of wooden crosses when he gets there. Jud makes his way down into the town, and when he comes across a blacksmith, asks if he needs any help. The Smithy looks at him kindly and asks if he is hungry, and invites Jud to have some food inside. While Jud is eating some food inside, some of Mimmo's henchmen come up to the Smithy and demand 'rent' money for Mimmo. When the Smithy refuses, a fight breaks out and Jud stops eating and helps the Smithy beat up the men, branding one of the men with a hot iron from the Smithy's fire. The Sheriff comes by and asks Jud why he helped the Smithy, as it was none of his business. Well, the Smithy and his wife decide its time to leave town, and he tells Jud to take anything he wants from the shop, as they are leaving. He tells Jud he can have the old mule tied up behind the shop if he wants. So Jud goes 'round back and unties the mule and gets his ass out of town.
On the outskirts of town he discovers an Indian girl that only speaks Spanish (yup, Spanish) bathing in a pond (Stefanie Powers as Little Moon), and they eventually team up in their revenge on the town. Now, the first time we see 'Little Moon' is when we see her bare ass as she is standing in a pond bathing. And they call her 'Little Moon' - yeah, I get it. At one point Little Moon takes a liking to Jud, and tries everything but standing on her head to attract his attention, to no avail . . . wait a minute, she just stood on her head . . . no kidding. Anyway, the rest of the movie involves Jud and Little Moon killing off the townsmen, and there are plenty to kill - just check the actors list. I know that jobs were tough to find in 1975, but this flick seems to have given a job to everyone in Hollywood and Southern California. Sheesh.
Every bar scene involves a rowdy fight, and Sammy Davis Jr. is the toughest man in the bar. There is even a prolonged cat-fight between Mimmo's woman and another woman that she caught sleeping with Mimmo. Of course, Mimmo's girl was in another room with some other man when she heard Mimmo laughing and enjoying this woman. No nevermind about that, she beats the tar out of the woman that was having fun with HER man.
After Jed and Little Moon kill all the townsmen, and Jud has a death-match showdown with Mimmo, Little Moon does get Jud's attention, and as the movie ends and they are walking into the sunset, she speaks not in Spanish, but now in perfect English, and tells Jud that he has killed everyone but the cameraman . . . and of course Jud turns around and shoots our cameraman . . . honest . . . I couldn't make that up.
If you like edge-of-your-seat western drama and suspense, look elsewhere, but if you like bar fights, women with plenty of cleavage, lots of death and destruction, give this one a try. Suspend your thoughts, don't worry about the plot, just enjoy some very non-traditional cowboy fun.