Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of finishing post and releasing my 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.
Week Ninety Six: Waterhole #3
I watched part of this movie with someone who, fifteen minutes in, claimed, “This is the dumbest movie I’ve ever seen.” The comment amused me. For one, it was clear the person hadn’t seen many dumb movies in their day. Second, this isn’t close to the bottom of the dumb category of films, not even the special corner designated for dumb Western comedies. In fact, I think it’s one of the best in that subgenre. To say the least, that person didn’t finish the film with me but I did the next night.
Considering I’d never heard of this until another friend gave me the DVD, I expected a throwaway 70s romp with Coburn playing another charming, slick role. He does play that part again but the film around him is much better than it gets credit for. With Blake Edwards overseeing the production, director Graham crafts a silly (not dumb) Western full of colorful characters that delighted me until the final ten minutes. The highlights are O’Connor and Carey. The former isn’t obvious with his comedy but slowly became my favorite character as the crusty old sheriff who hilariously doesn’t protect his daughter much from the clutches of lustful men. Carey, on the other hand, plays things in the wildest way as usual. Nicolas Cage really is carrying on the tradition of Carey’s acting, whether by intention or not. To call his movements and line readings theatrical would be inaccurate; they’re out of this world.
Like I said, the ending disappoints. After a great build up that could have ended in a total absurd mash-up of all the characters, things just kind of putter out. It’s too bad too because the scenes that proceed it, including one where Coburn and O’Connor demolish a brothel with shotguns, are quite fun. Anyway, if you like the lighter side of the Western, I suggest you check this out. Oh, and the Roger Miller (did the music for the animated Robin Hood) is a great time too.
Seen on DVD.