Monday, December 06, 2010

631 - The Ballad of Cable Hogue review



If the Internet is to be believed, Sam Peckinpah’s favorite of his own films wasn’t one of his actual violent Westerns, but this, a plodding comedy that outstays its welcome by a solid 45 minutes. Starring the great Jason Robards as the titular Hogue, pic plays like the two hour joke of a bawdy old man, replete with gags about whores, preachers, and temperance folk. It's as if Peckinpah decided to make a movie to screen in the background while getting smashed with his blue collar friends.

There’s personality here, but little in the way of interesting craft and virtually nothing to challenge its characters, revealing the non-surprise that Peckinpah had much more to offer when dealing with people facing enormous moral and physical adversity than with folks who just hang out all day. Without hardship, Peckinpah's grit and grime approach just translates to unnecessary unpleasantness. After his sensationally bold and affecting masterpiece “The Wild Bunch,” fans must have been deeply disappointed to find that the film’s total number of gunshots could be counted on a single hand. Punctuated with one of the worst endings I can remember, one could easily imagine that this represents Peckinpah in a fine mood, which I’m sorry to say didn’t suit him much an artist.

2 out of 5

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