Newest Reviews
Morfalous, Les
Everything Went Fine
Lux AEterna
Rum Runners
Fairy and the Devil, The
Mad God
Outside the Law
I Remember Mama
Superman Unbound
Lawrence of Belgravia
House Across the Lake, The
Wonder Park
Hornsby e Rodriguez
Operation Mincemeat
5 Kung Fu Daredevil Heroes
Peau Douce, La
Double Indemnity
Na Cha and the Seven Devils
Deep Murder
Superman vs. the Elite
Adam Project, The
Osamu Tezuka's Last Mystery of the 20th Century
Horse, La
Train Robbers, The
Let Sleeping Cops Lie
Funeral, The
Burning Sea, The
Godzilla Singular Point
Ace of Aces
Innocents, The
Beast and the Magic Sword, The
Last Hard Men, The
Found Footage Phenomenon, The
Night Trap
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  Traveling Executioner, The A Chairy Tale
Year: 1970
Director: Jack Smight
Stars: Stacy Keach, Marianna Hill, Bud Cort, Graham Jarvis, James Sloyan, M. Emmet Walsh, John Bottoms, Ford Rainey, James Greene, Sammy Reese, Stefan Gierasch, Logan Ramsey, Charles Tyner, William Mims, Val Avery, Charlie Briggs, Paul Gauntt
Genre: Western, Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year was 1918, and one of the newfangled ideas for executing prisoners on Death Row was the electric chair, but there were only so many to go around. So step forward Jonas Candide (Stacy Keach), a compassionate man who loved his line of work, that being the travelling executioner, bringing his chair around the prisons to carry out the death penalty, but taking pride in his work to give the condemned, no matter what they had done, a decent send off. And then he met inmate Gundred Herzallerliebst (Marianna Hill)...

Which spelled his downfall, as he ill-advisedly falls in love with the woman, seeing her predicament as something he can help with, except this time not with a few kind words and his patented "Fields of Ambrosia" speech which he uses to soothe frayed nerves of those he is executing. Nope, this time he's going to spring his next undertaking from the prison, which sounds like it's the recipe for a riproaring black comedy, but does not quite play that way, mostly thanks to director Jack Smight employing an oddly laidback tone to the proceedings which did not generate much in the way of laughter, not least hilarity.

At the heart of this was a highly idiosyncratic performance from Stacy Keach, who mixed up a slightly buffoonish persona with the understanding of a social worker too close to his charges and an oddly creepy appreciation for his job. Candide's trouble was that he believed not that he was taking care of business with utmost professionalism, but that he had convinced himself that he was some kind of saviour for these men he was putting to death. Therefore when Gundred enters his life, and is being victimised by all around her - for a start she has been put in an all-male prison, with all the abuse that entails - his protective nature gets the better of him.

Is Candide being exploited, and is anyone's capacity for forgiveness if they think it will do the wrongdoer good simply misguided and open to corruption and getting taken advantage of, would appear to be the motivations behind Garrie Bateson's script, the only film he ever had produced which naturally makes the few fans of this movie who have actually seen it very interested in what happened to him. It's a little easier to see now, but remains one of the most obscure titles in many of the cast's C.V.s, yet among those who did catch it down the years it was just eccentric enough to capture the attention, even with the power to move by its ending, which others may find hard to believe.

That could be because although the finale looks to be sentimental as Candide realises the error of his ways and the irony of where it has landed him, the actual ending is way over the top and ludicrously overemphatic in light of what has gone before, which of course provided another reason why it would stick in the mind. Before they reached that point there was a host of sort of Western (as in the genre) trappings, yet without fully committing to the style, and a more intriguing attitude to the death penalty produced at a time when it was going out of fashion in the United States. That be be why it was seen fit as comedy material, yet with that lackadaisical mood acting against it the overall impression was a hard to fathom type of experience of the sort that nobody makes anymore. The cast, which included Bud Cort as a mortician and M. Emmet Walsh as the warden indicated a cultier reputation than it actually had, but if you wanted something offbeat in a seventies way, The Traveling Executioner would fit the bill. Music by Jerry Goldsmith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 3611 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

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

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Mary Sibley
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Paul Smith


Last Updated: