Release Year: 1972
Director: John Sturges
Writer: Elmore Leonard
Starring. Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, John Saxon, Don Stroud, Stella Garcia, James Wainright, Paul Kolso, Gregory Walcott, Dick van Patten, Pepe Hern
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #310, week 22 2020
An ex-bounty hunter is co-erced into helping a rich man and his gang track down a Mexican revolutionary leader fighting for a land reform that will hurt his business.
This early 1970’s Western assembles a strong cast in front and behind the camera with a script by author Elmore Leonard and directed by John sturges (Bad Day at Black Rock, 1955) and the actor duo of Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry, 1971) and Robert Duvall (Open Range, 2003) in front, this is the sort of film that can easily induce too high expectations. However, this is not a great Western but it is a very good one. Eastwood stars as gritty ex-bounty hunter and gunman will happily take a short stint in prison over paying a fine. He is hired by Duvall’s morally corrupt rancher, who is looking for the Mexican revolutionary Chama, so he can eliminate this particular nuisance. Kidd goes along with tracking Chama, but when the real purpose of their trip becomes clear, he makes a moral choice about which side he should stand on, as a small village is taken hostage in the quest to track down Chama. The story is classic Western, and it feels like the kind of story that it mainly there to set up the hero. Luckily, Eastwood fullfills that role perfectly, with great gusto and the result is very entertaining. Duvall is equally captivating as a despicable antagonist. A good, fun, Western with a very fine final showdown. Recommended.
This was the last time Eastwood was directed in a Western by someone else. His (so far) four Westerns made after this were all directed by Eastwood himself.
Saxon’s character Luis Chama was originally portrayed as a more layered and heroic character, but Eastwood, who was the star, wanted his character to be seen as the hero and be the guy that dealt with the action, so the Chama character was changed durinf production to one who was more self-serving and cowardly.
Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, and Robert Mitchum were all considered for the role of Joe Kidd.