Joe Kidd  (1972)    64/100

Rating :   64/100                                                                       88 Min        15

‘Joe Kidd’ is a western directed by John Sturges, the man behind classics like ‘The Great Escape’ (63) and ‘Gunfight at the O.K. Corral’ (57), and it was one of the last films he ever did (the very last being ‘The Eagle has Landed’ with Michael Caine and Robert Duvall in 1976). It is also a classic Clint Eastwood film that was shot the same year he did ‘Dirty Harry’ (72), in between helming his directorial debut ‘Play Misty for Me’ (71) and his next outing behind the camera ‘High Plains Drifter’ (73). It stands up well against those better known films, with Clint in his usual hard man role complimented by some wonderful one-liners, casual standoffs with armed goons, and the use of whatever is at hand to defeat the bad guys, including at one point a train…

Eastwood plays a reluctant ex-bounty hunter hired by ruthless land owner and hunter Robert Duvall to take care of a little problem. Duvall appeared in ‘The Godfather’ the same year, and it’s interesting to see the contrast in the two characters. Here he is just as convincing at being somewhat dishevelled and unhinged, as he was at being the controlled and calculating Tom Hagen. As is common with westerns though, the characters don’t really get much in the way of backstory. What prevents this from being a film in the genre that everyone has heard of is there isn’t much in the way of the big showdown that makes it really stand out. There are some nice touches here and there, but several people on both sides don’t seem particularly concerned whether or not they get hit, judging from how much cover they’re taking.

If you generally like westerns and/or Clint Eastwood then this is certainly a worthy watch, and you will no doubt acquire some new lines to practice while you’re shaving by the mirror …

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