HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
It Came from the Desert
Lodgers, The
Eagle vs Shark
American Assassin
Die, Mommie, Die!
All the Money in the World
Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The
Black Panther
Children's Hour, The
Mayhem
Sphere
Guyver, The
Night School
Loveless
Ragtime
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wound, The
Scalawag
Let's Get Harry
Girl with Green Eyes
Sunchaser, The
Tom Jones
Downsizing
Defiant Ones, The
Centerfold Girls, The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Police Academy 3: Back in Training
   
 
Newest Articles
Wes Anderson's Big Daddies: Steve Zissou and Others
Bad Taste from Outer Space: Galaxy of Terror and Xtro
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
Hell is a City: Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
   
 
  Villain, The Acme Comedy KitBuy this film here.
Year: 1979
Director: Hal Needham
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Ann-Margret, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Paul Lynde, Jack Elam, Strother Martin, Ruth Buzzi, Robert Tessier, Foster Brooks, Ray Bickel, Mel Tillis, Laura Lizer Sommers, Jan Eddy, Mel Todd, Jim Anderson
Genre: Western, Comedy
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Cactus Jack Slade (Kirk Douglas) is a bad man of the Old West, who is out to steal as much money as he possibly can. Or he would if he was any good at his chosen profession, illegal as it is he cannot seem to get simple things like jumping aboard a moving train right. Today he is in an Arizona smalltown, and plans to rob the bank there, so that night he strides up to the back door and knocks on it, telling the bank clerk he is the Sheriff. Once inside, he finds the clerk doesn't know the combination to the safe, so uses dynamite instead - which destroys the bank, but leaves the safe intact...

If Kirk Douglas was going to be a success at any type of comedy, then surely playing the live action version of Wile E. Coyote, with the slapstick violence to match, would be ideal for him? Apparently not, as The Villlain, retitled Cactus Jack outside of North America, was a flop and yet more proof that the star was having trouble picking the right movie for his talents in the late seventies and early eighties. Yet for those who did see this in the cinema, it holds, if not a special place in their hearts, then a nice memory of a defiantly silly film that managed to entertain.

Better to leave it in the past, perhaps, but once it gets its plot, slender as it is, underway there are a few decent laughs here. It's simply that they're rather too few and far between, and if director Hal Needham was hoping for another Burt Reynolds-sized hit, then he should have prepared himself for a letdown. The casting sounds right, with Ann-Margret as a daughter, called Charming Jones (eh?), of businessman Strother Martin, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as her meatheaded protector, and the likes of Jack Elam and Robert Tessier in support.

Alas, their talents are somewhat squandered when you see the material they are saddled with, and when Jack's trusty steed Whiskey runs away with the acting honours you know that they were in trouble. Schwarzenegger especially comes across as embarrassingly amateurish, ruining half-funny lines with his tone deaf delivery, and you can see why he was better the next decade in roles such as The Terminator where he didn't have to put over quite so many lines in a broadly humorous manner. Couple this to the fact that the cast are playing cartoon characters, and nothing quite settles the way it should.

Still, if you ever wanted to see Kirk Douglas play scenes with Paul Lynde, then this is the film for you. Once we have all that preparation for what is a very simple idea, that is that Cactus Jack is after the cash that Charming and her new friend Handsome Stranger (Schwarzenegger - didn't put much thought into the names, did they?) are transporting back to her father, then we can get to the meat of the entertainment. Which turns out to be Douglas falling off cliffs, getting crushed by boulders, being dragged behind the horses, and generally ending up in perilous situations thanks to his greed. Much of this could have done with snappier timing, but a few chuckles emerge, if only it wasn't so achingly familiar from a million Warner Bros. cartoons. Music by Bill Justis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2386 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (4)
Posted by:
Andrew Pragasam
Date:
9 Apr 2009
  One of those "Twilight Zone" movies you stumble across and can't believe they really made it.
       
Posted by:
Graeme Clark
Date:
9 Apr 2009
  I have to admit, this was the funniest film I had ever seen when I was about seven years old.
       
Posted by:
Andrew Pragasam
Date:
10 Apr 2009
  I feel the same way about The Big Bus.
       
Posted by:
Graeme Clark
Date:
10 Apr 2009
  Don't you be dissin' The Big Bus! That's still funny!
       


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 film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
   

 

Last Updated: