The Villain (1979)

...the fastest fun in the west!

Handsome Stranger has agreed to escort Charming Jones to collect her inheritance from her father. But Avery Jones wants the money, and hires notorious outlaw Cactus Jack to ambush Charming. However, Cactus Jack is not very good at robbing people.

A slow-witted cowboy named Handsome Stranger (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is acting as a bodyguard of sorts for a woman named Charming Jones (Ann-Margret). Charming is traveling across the West with fortune in a locked chest. An old outlaw named Cactus Jack (Kirk Douglas) is hired to steal the chest. Cactus Jack comes up with trap after trap to try to get his hands on the loot, but each plan fails epically.
I can't tell you how many reviews I've read comparing The Villain to a live action Wile E Coyote cartoon. While I see some comparisons, the difference is that Wile E Coyote's tales are funny and told with wit and charm. The tale of Cactus Jack is filled with failed attempts at comedy and is about as dull as anything I've seen recently. None of it worked on me. I knew I was in trouble five minutes into the movie when Jack has an argument with his horse. Ugh. I could see my 6-year old laughing at some of Jack's hijinks, but none of it brought as much as a smile to my face. I was bored to tears. Without a car in sight, director Hal Needham seems horribly out of his element.
As for the acting, I watched The Villain for Schwarzenegger. However, in 1979, he was still a terribly green actor. In most scenes, he's as stiff as a board. The ridiculously gorgeous Ann-Margaret almost makes The Villain worth watching on her own, but after a while, ogling Ann-Margret can get tedious. As for Douglas, what an embarrassment! Let's just say that comedy wasn't his thing. The highlight of the cast for me was easily Strother Martin in a bit part. His five minutes of screen-time were easily the best part of the film.

Rastar Pictures by Hal Needham, Robert G. Kane.
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ann-Margret, Paul Lynde.

Genres: Comedy, Western

Keywords: chase train explosion glue cowboy wild west

07/27/1979

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