HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Midnight Hour, The
Willies, The
Playhouse
Love Lottery, The
Deeper You Dig, The
Trouble Brewing
Song Without a Name
Incident in a Ghostland
Relic
Nobody
Now, At Last!
Tales from the Hood
Radio Parade of 1935
Dead
Death at Broadcasting House
Huracan
Ghost Strata
Call to Spy, A
Tailgate
Other Lamb, The
Every Time I Die
Lynn + Lucy
Topsy-Turvy
Honest Thief
Blood and Money
Rose: A Love Story
Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made
Om Dar-B-Dar
Silencing, The
J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs and the Church of SubGenius
Dick Johnson is Dead
Two/One
Cognition
Legacy of Lies
I Am Woman
Alien Addiction
Dare, The
South Terminal
Little Monsters
Yield to the Night
   
 
Newest Articles
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
Rose: A Love Story - Producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley Interview
Phone Phreak: 976-EVIL on Blu-ray
Living the Nightmare: Dementia on Blu-ray
Becky and The Devil to Pay: Ruckus and Lane Skye Interview
Big Top Bloodbath: Circus of Horrors on Blu-ray
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
   
 
  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 2562 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 is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: