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From the Back Cover
- "Remembering Will Penny" Featurette - A Retrospective Look With Charlton Heston and Jon Gries
- "The Cowboys of Will Penny" Featurette
Top Customer Reviews
Set in the 1880s in Montana, it was shot on location by cinematographer Lucien Ballard in Inyo National Forest, with sweeping panoramas of the Sierra Nevada.
This film was sadly ignored when it was released in 1968; some say the disappointing reception was because "Planet of the Apes" was running at the same time, but I'm inclined to believe it was because it didn't follow the Hollywood formula, in its characters or plot.
The cast supporting Heston is superb, including a glowing performance by Joan Hackett, as a woman stranded with her son in the wilderness, and Jon Gris (son of director Tom Gris), is a delight as "Button", her son.
Donald Pleasence is appropriately manic as the murderous Preacher Quint, and in a small part as the Flat Iron Ranch Foreman, Ben Johnson truly shines. Other terrific actors in small parts are Bruce Dern, Anthony Zerbe, Lee Majors, Slim Pickens, and William Schallert as Dr. Fraker. Lydia Clarke (the real life Mrs. Heston) appears as Mrs. Fraker.
Rather along the lines of Clint Eastwood's 1992 "Unforgiven", this is an intelligent, beautifully directed and acted Western, with well-drawn characters, and a good balance between action scenes and the inner landscape of a lonely man.
A must for Heston fans, and also for those who say they don't care for his acting, as this film could well change their minds.
Total running time 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Aided by a solid script by director Tom Gries, who died too young in 1977, Heston gives a performance of real strength and character, with Hackett (who also died too young) equally fine as the lonely woman having to protect an emotionally fatherless son. WILL PENNY was primarily shot on location in the Owens Valley, at the eastern foot of the Sierra Nevada, during the winter of 1967; and this results in a very cold but still panoramic movie, superbly shot by veteran cameraman Lucien Ballard. For whatever reason, Paramount originally buried it in release in early 1968, choosing to release it simultaneously with the 20th Century Fox film PLANET OF THE APES, another Heston film that got the box office glory. Now, however, WILL PENNY is rightly regarded as a minor classic--and perhaps the real crowning glory in Heston's extremely distinguished acting career.
This is a very low-key film. Most of the performances are restrained (Donald Pleasance excepted) and quite good, especially Chuck Heston's. The scenes between Heston and Joan Hackett are very good. One of Heston's best performances during the period of the late 60's and early 70's.
The villians of the story are so unbelievable and unrealistic that they seem like they came out of a Western spoof, rather than the serious, realistic Western which Will Penny attempts to be. It's hard to figure just where the heck Donald Pleasance's character is supposed to come from as his accent is all over the place. It's also hard to figure out just how this family of nut-jobs hadn't been killed long before they could encounter Will Penny. They would have either been killed or jailed for their pattern of committing crimes based on their warped religious beliefs. These characters are both written and performed as such over the top crazies that they don't come across as real people, which is in stark contrast to the rest of the characters in the movie. As noted before, it almost seems like they came out of a spoof of a Western movie rather than a serious one.
And that's the shame of the whole thing - if the villians of the movie had been just a little more realistic Will Penny could have easily been one of the best Westerns of the 60's and 70's. As it is Will Penny is still a good movie (great in spots), but because of the way that the villians were scripted (and acted) the movie is brought down a notch or two from what it could have, and should have been.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The only thing that would have made this better is if the relationship between Will and the woman had been developed more. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Andre Vellagio
Great old western. This will be a permanent member of my Western collection. Charlton Heston was one great actor. This is not a shoot'm up movie. Good story linePublished 1 month ago by Dungannon Gunner
Charlton Heston wasn't convincing in "Major Dundee," the only other western I had seen him in, but he seems totally at home in "Will Penny," which he has said was... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Stanley Crowe
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