Movie Review – Joe Kidd

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Last week I had a review of a Western adapted from a short story by Elmore Leonard. This week I have an review of a Western film that was actually written by Elmore Leonard.

The Premise:

Joe Kidd (Clint Eastwood) is a bounty hunter who has given up his old profession and instead has taken up raising horses. However, he ends up finding himself caught in the middle of a struggle between some Mexican revolutionaries and a cattle baron by the name of Frank Harlon (played by Robert Duvall), who is out to claim their land. Kidd must decide whether to side with Harlon and get paid, and get revenge for attacks on his own land, or to help the revolutionaries.

The Good:

The film has an excellent cast, particularly with the performances by Eastwood and Duvall, and an excellent script, with a few exceptions. I also like how the film handles, subtly, improvements in technology around the time and the way they were changing the world quietly, through some of the guns in the film, such as one character’s Mauser with a stock, and several other characters with sniper rifles. To be more specific, Kidd ends up using both the semi-automatic Mauser and the sniper rifle, and has to adjust to using each – and does successfully.

The Bad:

While Kidd is an amusing and entertaining Marty Stu, he’s a Marty Stu nonetheless, one with no weaknesses in the film, and who is practically invincible. Fortunately, this is the only film with the character, as if we had to watch multiple films with the character, I’m concerned that if not written right in the long run he’d become insufferable.

The Ugly:

The film’s conclusion at the end is a little more over the top and becomes kind of comedic because of it – more so than other films adapted from Leonard’s work, like Pulp Fiction and 3:10 to Yuma. To a certain extent there’s part of that early on, as exemplified by a sequence where Kidd is rescuing a judge from a hostage situation in a courthouse by walking him out the back, sneaking him into the local bar and having him go out the back, while he waits in the bar itself, pouring himself a beer and arming himself with the bartender’s shotgun, and then making himself a sandwich before watching a posse ride out to pursue the revolutionaries. However, the sequence at the end where Kidd drives a locomotive through the bar wall, to surprise the Harlon’s thugs within is considerably more over-the-top.

The Verdict:

This is an entertaining western. However, if you’re looking for something as grounded as the re-make of 3:10 to Yuma, you’ll be sadly disappointed. I’d give it a rental first, before buying it.