As a precursor to our film project, 12 Western Feature-Length Films in 12 Months, which Running Wild Films and 5J Media will start producing in 2016, director Travis Mills shares his thoughts on films from the genre as he studies Westerns in preparation for our own. Follow the project here on Facebook

This series of short blogs is titled “Western Impressions”.

The Wild Rovers (1971)


This was an incredible surprise. I had watched the first ten minutes some time ago and stopped the film but trying again, by the time I was a half hour through, it became clear to me that this was a great western. William Holden and Ryan O’Neal are a perfect pair, their chemistry couldn’t be better. The comedic moments are done so well, no surprise from Pink Panther director Blake Edwards but what is the surprise is how well the filmmaker handles not only serious scenes but some of the most dark and disturbing images in the genre. I’m thinking about the killing of the sheep when Karl Malden comes in to chase off the sheep herders or the poker game gone bad. The action, shot in slow motion (which may be the film’s only weakness as it recalls too much The Wild Bunch) is often quite unsettling. Edwards shows here that he is much more versatile than he ever gets credit for. It’s a long film with some very touching moments that I can easily call one of my favorite westerns now.

Lasting impression: when Holden and O’Neal catch the wild horse in the snow. It’s funny, charming and a great thrill.