HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Into the Mirror
Support the Girls
Werewolf
Little Monsters
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans
Pentathlon
Anna
Moulin Rouge
Ray & Liz
African Queen, The
Helen Morgan Story, The
Golem, Der
Yentl
Finishing Line, The
Triple Threat
Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians, The
Driven
Planet of the Dinosaurs
Gwen
Big Breadwinner Hog
Thunder Road
Moby Dick
Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie
Mad Room, The
Phantom of the Megaplex
Night Sitter, The
Child's Play
Power, The
Midsommar
After Midnight
Dolemite is My Name
Varda by Agnes
Toy Story 4
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy
Man Who Never Was, The
Greener Grass
Scobie Malone
Gangster, the Cop, the Devil, The
Brightburn
   
 
Newest Articles
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
   
 
  Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County, The A Hoss of a different colourBuy this film here.
Year: 1970
Director: Ranald McDougall, Anton Leader
Stars: Dan Blocker, Nanette Fabray, Jim Backus, Wally Cox, Jack Elam, Henry Jones, Stubby Kaye, Mickey Rooney, Noah Beery Jr, Marge Champion, Don 'Red' Barry, Hamilton Camp, Tom Basham, Iron Eyes Cody, James McCallion, Jack Cassidy
Genre: Western, Comedy, Romance
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: The sleepy western town of Calico is abuzz with news that Charley (Dan Blocker), the big, kindly if socially-inept local blacksmith sent a year's savings back East for a mail-order bride. Everyone gathers at the train station to see Charley greet his wife-to-be. Only for the poor man to be left heartbroken when she does not come. So humiliated is Charley he decides to leave town. Fearing the town will be paralyzed with the loss of their one and only blacksmith, Sheriff Staunch (Jim Backus) hatches a plan to have 'saloon girl' (classic western talk for prostitute) Sadie (Nanette Fabray) pass herself off as Charley's intended. The ploy works well enough but before long Sadie starts to feel guilty about conning goodhearted Charley. Further complications arise when her violent boyfriend Roger Hand (Jack Cassidy) returns to town, forcing the locals to think fast.

Dan Blocker's first lead role in a feature film was sadly also his last. Beloved by television viewers as burly, big-hearted Hoss Cartwright on long-running western show Bonanza he succumbed to a pulmonary embolism two years after the release of Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County, aged just forty-three. In real-life Blocker, who taught history in high school, held a degree in English literature and was studying for his PhD, was far from the simpletons he portrayed on screen. Here his skill as an actor is well evident as he wrings a fair measure of pathos from his role as a lovelorn oaf. Unfortunately despite a likable lead and the sterling efforts of a (mostly) committed cast The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County is a comic dud. Things get off to a promising start striking the right tragicomic note and investing our sympathy in poor, sweet-natured Charley. Yet once Sadie agrees to play along with the ruse (solely, she claims, to put the stuck-up local ladies' noses out of joint) the plot inexplicably runs out of steam. Comedy westerns are a notoriously tricky genre to pull off. This has none of the charm of Cat Ballou (1965) nor subversive wit of Burt Kennedy's two ingenious James Garner vehicles: Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969) and Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971). Nor indeed the flat-out hilarity of Bob Hope's numerous outings in the genre, particularly Son of Paleface (1952).

Ranald McDougall, the prolific screenwriter behind among others Mildred Pierce (1945), Cleopatra (1963) and Jigsaw (1968), strives for pathos with a love story where two lonely social misfits with low self-esteem find solace in each other. The film has the benefit of a folksy western milieu very similar to that found in television westerns like Bonanza along with an array of familiar comedy character actors. Among them Jim Backus (the voice of Mr. Magoo!), Wally Cox, Mickey Rooney, Stubby Kaye, a scene-stealing Jack Elam as a comically near-sighted bounty hunter and the talented but tragically ill-fated Jack Cassidy. The cast lend the film what energy it has although, curiously, the one actor out of step with the material is Nanette Fabray. Not only does the script make it hard to warm to the sour, under-motivated Sadie, Fabray's indifferent interaction with Blocker saps its emotional core.

Lethargic pacing and a plot that takes forever to connect the dots also conspire to let the film down. It is possible McDougall realized the premise was too thin to stretch out to a movie as midway through shooting he handed directing duties to television stalwart Anton Leader, whose only other feature film credit was sci-fi horror Children of the Damned (1964). Whoever wound up shooting the bulk of the movie made surprisingly little out of some promising comic ingredients. Instead the film falls back on trite slapstick involving drunken clowning at the local saloon, an uncooperative horse named Lightning Bolt and Elam's amusingly antisocial antics in a failed attempt to galvanize a listless affair. A great shame. Dan Blocker fans would be better off checking out his earlier made-for-TV western Something for a Lonely Man (1968) where the star also played a downtrodden small town blacksmith. Talk about typecasting.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 761 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: