Hey folks, Valkor here. TOV is no stranger to westerns; our boy Epic handled a couple of doozies in the form of Redemption and Angel and the Bad Man. And thanks to the folks at Warner home, I get the privilege of taking a crack at a true classic western that's just been entered into the Warner Archive Collection. The film is called "Wild Rovers", starring William Holden, Ryan O'Neal, and Karl Malden. Some spoilers ahead.
Wild Rovers centers on a couple of cow-hands Ross (Holden) and Frank (O'Neal). After one of their buddies is killed, Ross begins to reflect on what life will be like when he can't be a cowboy anymore. Frank proposes the two rob a bank, which Ross agrees is a good idea. Plus he can use the money to make something more of himself. The two set forth in breaking into the bank teller's home, Frank holds the bank teller's family hostage while Ross takes the bank teller to get the money. They get away with it and are on the run. Walter (Malden), who Ross and Frank worked for, doesn't take to kindly to what the two have done. So he sends his two sons Paul (Joe Don Baker) and John (Tom Skerritt) out to get 'em. The two sons eventually track down Ross and Frank, and thus we have or climatic and tragic ending.
Now I've purposely left out a lot of detail, and believe me it's a lot. But to me, it's not really that important. Walter's death I know should have been mentioned, but it didn't need to happen to begin with. But that's neither here nor there and much of what I wanna say should be saved for the TOV Breakdown.
As far as westerns go, and I haven't seen too many, Wild Rovers ranks up there as being more traditional in terms of a real western experience as opposed to something more over the top Hollywood style (I'm lookin at you Young Guns… but I still love those films). The feel of the film itself is dark, yet at the same time quite playful. One of my favorite scenes is watching Frank and Ross try to break in a new Bronco; it's simply a lot of fun to watch as Ross is doin the bronco bustin, while Frank is whooping and cheering him on. But it's also tragic as our two heroes (or anti-heroes… they did robbed a bank), never truly get to enjoy their riches. I mean they do get to enjoy a little of it, with a hot bath, wine and women. Visually, the film is quite impressive, especially when you get into the outdoor, open range areas. It's such an amazing sight to behold, plus the lush greens and rustic browns really pop out of the screen. The acting is great with Holden and O'Neal making up one dynamic duo. The two mesh well together perfectly with such a strong presence. In the end, Wild Rovers is a mighty fine piece of work.
The film runs at about 137 minutes and you'll feel it; a lot of the it drags to no end. I've read this is the original Blake Edward cut, but I think a few extra bits and pieces could have been shaved off for a much tighter film.
However good and bad aside, I consider Wild Rovers an excellent addition to the archive collection; it's truly a classic western that has the look and feel to match. Definitely a film I'd recommend, especially anyone into classic titles; it's a simple story, about simpler times, with a tragic ending. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give Wild Rovers a 3.5. And it's been Valkor Viewed, TOV Approved.
I was definitely looking to get rid of the "tested and approved" for films, since we don't actually test movies. I think it works, but of course, I'm always open to suggestions. (and no, shutting down the site isn't one of em, ya mugs!)