Thursday, Oct 2020
Director: William Wiard, Producer: Steve McQueen.
Length: 98 mins.
Released: 1980

tom hornThis movie is based on a true story about the final days of the legendary Tom Horn, famous frontier scout and legendary Indian fighter. We see this prologue at the outset: "He grew up in the violence of the West. He became a cowboy, he rode shotgun for the stage lines, was an agent for the Pinkertons and fought for the Rough Riders and Teddy Roosevelt. He made his reputation as a cavalry scout by capturing Geronimo in the bloody Apache Wars." This movie about such a legendary and colorful figure living out his final days on the closing frontier in the very early 20th century has real promise. McQueen, grizzled and wise in one of his very last roles, brings great presence to the character of Tom Horn. Richard Farnsworth is excellent as well as Horn's true friend. This is a prototype "End-of-the-West" Western as the corporate ranchers and civilized settlers, representing the paved-over frontier, are wary and suspicious of Horn and the necessary ease with which he handles violence. Also, he handles his powerful rifle expertly and can easily outshoot anyone in the area. The ranchers inclined to rustle can simply produce no assassin to overcome Horn's gun as he dutifully protects a small group of honest cattlemen. "Progress", in the form of a questionable and arrogant legal system, eventually circles its wagons around Horn. Overall, the movie does not fully deliver on its considerable promise. This is a 'cold weather' Western set in Wyoming, and the chilly climate gives us a nice break from the typical sweat and dust. McQueen, who carries himself believably and with a great old cowboy's labored gait throughout the movie, almost manages to elevate the film above its problematic production. But the montages and times lapses are disconcerting and we don't quite receive the impact we should toward the end when the noble Horn, embodying the Old West itself muses: "I knew folks would have to do something about me sooner or later, the frontier closing and all. . . . . " This is a character study which should have been better, considering the character it studies. We call this a Good View only and regret that we can't call it a Must See.

--Jed

Cast:

  • Steve McQueen.... Tom Horn
  • Linda Evans.... Glendolene Kimmel, School Teacher
  • Richard Farnsworth... John C. Coble, Wood River Cattle Co.
  • Billy Green Bush.... U.S. Marshal Joe Belle
  • Slim Pickens.... Sheriff Sam Creedmore
  • Peter Canon.... Assistant Prosecutor
  • Elisha Cook Jr..... Stablehand
  • Roy Jenson.... Lee Mendenhour
  • James Kline.... Arlo Chance, Cattleman
  • Geoffrey Lewis....Walter Stoll, Prosecuting Attorney
  • Harry Northup.... Thomas Burke, Horn's Attorney
  • Steve Oliver.... 'Gentleman' Jim Corbett
  • Bill Thurman.... Ora Haley, Haley Cattle Co.
  • Bert Williams ....Judge
  • Bobby Bass.... Corbett's Bodyguard
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