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Key to his campaign is the capture of Bruce Dern's infamous Jack Strawhorn, a cucumber-cool, sharpshooting robber whose bad luck in finding a gang worthy of his own smarts is echoed by Nightingale's great fortune at having a posse who never fails him.
Or so he thinks....
When Strawhorn is captured, the whole town cheers, but this is offset by Wesley, one of Nightingale's best posse guys, having a go with the mayor's wife...and with two other posse members finding love, as it were, with two younger members of the female gender in the town. Seems Nightingale's boys aren't too shy.
Things come to a head when the tables are turned, and the ending is a total shock for those expecting things to turn out the way they "should" in a Western which, let's face it, is supposed to typify the core of what's good and true in American civilization. The editor of the local newspaper, a former soldier now missing an arm and a leg, is intriguingly similar in his perspective to Strawhorn; this comes out in some subtle and not so subtle ways.
Douglas himself directed this piercing look at American greed and lust and acquitted himself admirably. One of the better entries in the American Western canon, Posse is all too close to political reality even today.
As this was made in 1975, it's very much a post-Watergate film. And as such, it's still quite relevant today. For example, when Douglas makes his big speech to the town after capturing Dern, invoking God & goodness & appealing to the pre-programmed traditional beliefs of the townspeople, you realize that by changing just one word in that speech -- by substituting "terrorists" for "criminals" -- it's the same empty rah-rah speech we hear so often today.
However, Dern doesn't want to hang, and he definitely doesn't want to be used as an election prop. I won't give away what happens next, but it's quite satisfying. The film also stars James Stacy, who had recently lost an arm & a leg in a horrendous motorcycle accident, as the town's newspaper man, wary of Douglas & of any ambitious politico. He obviously represented Vietnam vets at the time; now he'd just as easily represent maimed veterans returning from Iraq, or any war, sacrificed for the personal ambitions of a smarmy would-be leader.
The performances are excellent, and even the minor background characters are given fine moments of characterization.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written and literate script. Very capable acting from Kirk Douglas ; Bruce Dern. Good supporting cast including "Bo" Hopkins in his pre-Rockford Files days.Published 14 days ago by Peter Luria
This is a great movie, and has to be one of Kirk Douglas's best "Westerns"... Very Well Acted, "Written", Directed, and Produced.. Read morePublished 1 month ago by BigWheelHawaii
Eight minutes and 15 seconds into the movie before there are two lines of dialogue. Nine minutes and 15 seconds before there is another line. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Greg
An enjoyable western with a surprise ending. Kirk as usual is very good.Published 6 months ago by G. Misthos