Jory is a coming-of-age western, telling a story about the initiation of a teenager into the realities of frontier life. It's a bit similar to Dick Richards' The Culpepper Cattle Company, released around the same time. Jory (Robby Benson) is a 15-year old boy who is orphaned after his alcoholic father is killed in a barroom incident. He joins a cattle drive and befriends the trail boss (John Marley), a philosophical old timer who takes the kid under his wing. But Jory is not only instructed in the cowboy trade, but also taught how to draw a gun quickly by a likable cowhand, a young man named Jocko, who actually holds himself for a formidable gunslinger, but has never shot a man in a duel ...

Jory is an interesting, but very uneven movie. The first half is rather strong, the second half messed up with clichés. The strong first half is helped enormously by the presence of the popular country singer B.J. Thomas* as the would-be gunslinger Jocko. It is suggested that Jocko, like Jory, was 'adopted' by the trail bos, and the friendship between the two foster brothers provides the movie with a few touching moments, among them the sene in which Jocko is provoked to a duel and is unable to point his gun at another human being, not even in self defense ...

Jocko's violent death is avenged by Jory - who is definitely not afraid to point his gun at another human being - but the problem is that the movie makes all the wrong choices after this emotionally wrenching scene. Jory has now become a 15 year old gunslinger, a sort of Jory the Kid, ready to show his shooting skills in any situation, but nobody seems worried about this development. Quite on the contrary: his mentor thinks he has proved himself on the cattle drive and recommends him to a friend, who is looking for somebody to guard his blossoming daughter. Hire a 15-year old to guard your 14-year old daughter? Who would ever do that? Of course the two start soft-soaping each other and Jory isn't much of a protector either: he is kidnapped (along with his sweetheart) but his foster father sacrifices himself to save the kid. It all ends with Jory - now sick of violence and death - hanging up his guns and leaving the region (and the movie) to go looking for 'a place with his name on it' - whatever that means.

Dir: Jorge Fons - Cast: Robby Benson (Jory), John Marley (Roy Starr), B.J. Thomas(Jocko), Linda Purl (Amy Barron) Claudio Brook (Ethan Walden), Patricia Aspíllaga (Carmelita Starr), Brad Dexter (Jack), Todd Martin (John Barron), Anne Lockhart (Dora) - Screenplay by Gerald Herman & Robert Irving, based on a novel by Milton R. Bass


* B.J. Thomas sold more than 70 million records but is - like many other country singers - virtually unknown in Europe. And yet most people will know his voice: his version of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song Raindrops keep fallin' on my head was part of the soundtrack for the immensely popular Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

B.J. Thomas singing Raindrops keep fallin' on my head