HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
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
   
 
  Bite the Bullet Rough Riders
Year: 1975
Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Gene Hackman, James Coburn, Candice Bergen, Ben Johnson, Ian Bannen, Jan-Michael Vincent, Dabney Coleman, John McLiam, Mario Arteaga, Sally Kirkland
Genre: Western, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: Out west at the dawn of the Twentieth century, a disparate group of cowboys and adventurers gather to compete in a gruelling seven-hundred mile horse race across the desert and western plains. Among the colourful competitors, former rough riders Sam Clayton (Gene Hackman) and Luke Matthews (James Coburn) cannot let their friendship come between them if they intend to win while gutsy ex-prostitute Miss Jones (Candice Bergen) is out to raise money to spring her lover out of jail, a punk kid named Corbo (Jan-Michael Vincent) antagonises everyone, an ageing cowpoke known only as Mister (Ben Johnson) rides in poor health, English gentleman Sir Harry Norfolk (Ian Bannen) competes for the sheer fun of it all, and a Mexican (Mario Arteaga) with a toothache literally needs to bite a bullet. All race against a thoroughbred of championship pedigree owned by a wealthy man (Dabney Coleman) who has no intention of losing his bet.

Much like the similarly underrated The Professionals (1966), Bite the Bullet is a pacey western adventure mounted in the Hawksian style by often ingenious though overlooked writer-producer-director Richard Brooks. Although set in a hearteningly familiar world of rugged but amiable cowboys and feisty attractive women one associates with a Howard Hawks western, interestingly the spirit of the film has as much in common with the director’s seminal air pilot drama Only Angels Have Wings (1939). Brooks brings an understated yet poetic philosophical dimension to the action that not only ruminates on the unspoken code between hard-bitten but honourable men (and women) but poses potent questions such as what is it that is worth dying for and what does winning and losing really mean?

The horse race proves the vehicle by which Brooks explores his characters’ personal philosophies towards life. Throughout events, whether faced with rough terrain, grizzly bears or violent outlaws, Clayton and Matthews uphold a level of compassion and decency that not only inspires several of their competitors but ultimately reaffirms their friendship. Taciturn Gene Hackman - in a role Charles Bronson foolishly turned down - and roguish James Coburn compliment each other exceptionally well while Candice Bergen is quite marvellous as a sassy but spirited heroine in the Hawksian mould. On a more superficial note, she also looks smashing in cowgirl gear. Brooks’ punchy, eloquent storytelling is aided by an all-star cast that etch vivid characterisations, each compelling in their own way. Western veteran Ben Johnson gives a fine turn as an ageing cowpoke trying to hold onto his dignity and delivers a moving monologue that ranks along with Hackman’s heart-rending memories of the Cuban war as one of the emotional high-points of the movie.

Naturally, the horse racing provides most of the action highlights, by turns gruelling and exhilarating, captured in fine naturalistic detail. Spectacular Panavision photography by Harry Stradling Jr., another veteran of the western genre, imparts an epic sweep over those glorious desert vistas, creating a vividly authentic sense of time and place conveying the craziness of the wild west. Brooks wisely restrains his use of slow-motion for only the most dynamic instances, notably a haunting sequence where one character grapples with a dying horse in the white sand. The third act springs a surprise twist that sends the plot galloping down a different path and sets the stage for an action packed showdown with Clayton and Matthews racing a motorbike in pursuit of some outlaws before the poignant, uplifting finale. If one were forced to cite a flaw it might be that Brooks paints too broad a canvas with his panoramic view shifting focus on multiple sub-plots. Nevertheless, the themes shine through and the film inspires with its devotion to highlighting the nobility in the dogged decency and determination of hard-working heroes and horses.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 4695 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (1)


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 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
Enoch Sneed
  Louise Hackett
Darren Jones
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: