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Will Penny


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Will Penny (1968)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Charlton Heston, Joan Hackett, Donald Pleasence, Lee Majors, Bruce Dern
  • Directors: Tom Gries
  • Writers: Tom Gries
  • Producers: Fred Engel, Walter Seltzer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: June 4, 2002
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000648YW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,205 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Will Penny" on IMDb

Special Features

  • "Remembering Will Penny" Featurette - A Retrospective Look With Charlton Heston and Jon Gries
  • "The Cowboys of Will Penny" Featurette

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Hollywood legend Charlton Heston stars as Will Penny, an aging cowboy on a hard-luck streak. He's out of work, out of money, and staked out to die in the desert by a gang of ruthless outlaws. Moments before death, Will is taken in by a beautiful young woman named Catherine (Joan Hackett), who is heading west with her young son to join her husband. As Catherine nurses Will back to health, he catches a glimpse of a lifestyle he's never known. Suddenly, Will has two more problems to deal with: He's madly in love with another man's wife, and the outlaw gang is on its way back to finish him off...

From the Back Cover

Hollywood legend Charlton Heston stars as Will Penny, an aging cowboy on a hard-luck streak. He's out of work, out of money, and staked out to die in the desert by a gang of ruthless outlaws. Moments before death, Will is taken in by a beautiful young woman named Catherine (Joan Hackett), who is heading west with her young son to join her husband. As Catherine nurses Will back to health, he catches a glimpse of a lifestyle he's never known. Suddenly, Will has two more problems to deal with: he's in love with another man's wife, and the outlaw gang is on its way back to finish him off.

Customer Reviews

The movie was fine and a great story with a magnificent cast.
old salt
Joan Hackett and the actor playing her son do a good job, and so do Slim Pickens, Ben Johnson, G. D. Spradlin, Lee Majors and Anthony Zerbe in minor roles.
William Markley
I guess I like the character so much, I wanted more scenes with him.
Mr. Fisher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 26, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
A well written story of an aging, illiterate cow hand, "Will Penny" has a magnificent portrayal by Charlton Heston, who has been quoted as saying that he loved the script, and felt that it was his best performance; it is a subtle and very touching depiction of a man who is realistic about his fate, which is raw and bitter, but not entirely without humor.
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.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Erik North on August 4, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Even more so than his Oscar-winning turn in BEN-HUR, Charlton Heston's role in the terribly underrated 1968 western WILL PENNY may well be his best ever. Frequently when he's not doing the big-budget historical epics, Heston's performances seem to be much more realistic. WILL PENNY is a case in point....
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.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 23, 2000
This movie is a love story. A love story between an illiterate, ageing cowboy (Heston) with no future prospects and a farmer's young wife (Hackett) facing a future of hard work on a farm and a loveless marriage. Will they find happiness with each other? Well, it doesn't help having a lunatic, bible-thumper (Donald Pleasance) and his brood of sociopaths (the always menacing Bruce Dern among them) threatening to skin Heston alive.
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.
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Erik Rupp VINE VOICE on May 22, 2005
Format: DVD
For me, watching Will Penny was a very frustrating experience. The performances of Charlton Heston, Lee Majors, Anthony Zerbe, and Ben Johnson were all quite good - especially Charlton Heston's. The script is excellent in most areas, and the direction & photography are often inspired. What goes wrong with Will Penny is the one part of the script that doesn't work.

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.
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