A band of Mexicans find their U. S. land claims denied and all the records destroyed in a courthouse fire. Their leader, Louis Chama, encourages them to use force to regain their land. A wealthy landowner wanting the same decides to hire a gang of killers with Joe Kidd to track Chama.
Well the deer didn't know where he was, and I wasn't sure either.
There's a certain school of thought with Eastwood purists that Joe Kidd is far more meaningful than its reputation would suggest. In fact, that it most certainly is not in the lower tier of Eastwood Westerns that ratings across internet forums say otherwise. Truth is, is that with Eastwood starring, Robert Duval and John Saxon supporting, John Sturges directing and Elmore Leonard writing, well this really should have turned out far better than it did.
In short order it has Eastwood as gunslinger/bounty hunter Joe Kidd who somehow finds himself helping a wealthy landowner and his henchmen to track down a Mexican revolutionary leader - it's a land issue we think.... But once on the trail as part of the posse, Kidd comes to find a conflict of interest and soon enough taking sides is just one of the issues to hand.
Sadly I myself can't join with the band of loyal fans who put forward this as a misunderstood piece of work. It plods along as it works its way through a muddled screenplay, which really is very thin from a narrative standpoint, and ultimately it doesn't pay off for character crescendo value come the finale. Add in that Duval's character is poorly under written and Saxon is miscast and you got a few problems to be annoyed about.
However, the script does have some nifty dialogue, Bruce Surtees' location photography is outstanding, while Eastwood is yet again a magnetic presence that draws you in to stay the course. Action is well enough handled, including a brilliant finale involving a train as a weapon of mass destruction, and there's some weapons of interest to be interested in!. But you feel that there should have been a bit more complexity on show here, and that the running time of just an hour and twenty minutes does suggest, there's half an hour of film that really should have been added here. 6/10
Universal Pictures, Malpaso Productions by John Sturges, Elmore Leonard.
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, John Saxon, Don Stroud.
Keywords: violence cowboy gun violence steam locomotive gunfighter gun for hire favorite
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