Knowing that the movie was directed by John Sturges, also stars Robert Duvall and was scripted by Elmore Leonard, it may come as a surprise that Joe Kidd is often called Clint's dullest western. It is probably best known for a scene in which Eastwood runs a railway engine through a bar. Some have noticed similarities to Sergio Corbucci's The Great Silence ('that western in the snow'). A persistent rumor says Clint once bought the rights to a remake of Corbucci's movie (which was never released in the US), but then decided to do this movie instead. There are couple of similarities (locations, weapons) but they're rather vague and they might as well be totally coincidental.
premise sounds very interesting: at the
end of the Mexican-American war, Mexico has ceded a part of its
territory to the US (1). The local Mexican population are being
systematically cheated of their land rights by American land barons. One
of the locals, a farmer called Chama, has started a riot
that is quickly spreading. The most powerful of the landowners, Harlan,
organizes a manhunt and offers Joe Kidd, a former bounty hunter, $ 500
to track down Chama. Joe first refuses, but then hears that Chama has
raided his farm ...
The conflict between Spanish and
English language citizens is an interesting subject, not often treated
in westerns, and Joe Kidd
starts off well, with a stoic Clint
reluctantly choosing sides in the conflict, but it loses momentum along
the way and comes up with a particularly disappointing conclusion. Some
think Elmore Leonard was one of America's finest (screen-)writers, but I
have never been a fan of his work. His script
for Joe Kidd lacks insight, both in the characters and the conflict.
Eastwood's character is ill-defined and Duvall's land baron is too much
typified as a nazi avant-la-lettre. Overall the action scenes look good. However, I do not like this scene
with rail way engine. It is funny, but it's also a bit ridiculous and ultimately it looks as uninspired as the movie itself.
in a rather one-dimensional action movie, watchable,
but not living up to its expectations. There are enough 'Eastwood
moments' to keep his fans interested and Bruce Surtees' cinematography
gives the film a glorious look, but with this cast and this director, we
would've expected a bit more.
Dir: John Sturges - Cast: Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, John Saxon, Don Stroud, Stella Garcia, Paul Koslo, James Wainwright
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