Recently, I read a book by an author who, after having moved from New York to Montana, became entranced by the Great Plains. Contributing to this fascination was the film RANCHO DELUXE, which the writer said he saw eight or nine times. My curiosity was piqued, especially since it was filmed in and around Livingston, Montana, a pretty town which I've had occasion to drive through.
Jeff Bridges and Sam Waterston, both much younger then (1974), play the small-time cattle rustlers Jack and Cecil respectively. Their poaching enrages a local rancher, John Brown (Clifton James), who bought his spread after moving from the East with the profits from a chain of beauty parlors. Brown declares war against his unknown tormentors, and imports a decrepit ex-horse thief turned range detective, Henry Beige (Slim Pickens), to solve the case.
The best part of this film is the scenery, which is spectacular. Beyond that, I'm left wondering how starved for entertainment one has to be to watch this stinker more than once. Perhaps the video rental outlets in Montana are poorly stocked. It sure beats me. The plot was lame, the acting second-rate, and the 93 minute running time mind-numbingly endless. The Jack and Cecil characters - the heroes (?) of the story - were obnoxious at best and simply unsavory at worst. Of all the major and minor players, only the persona played by Pickens was in any way likable. But, in the end, even he couldn't save this high plains clunker. The video jacket claims RANCHO DELUXE to be a "cool comedy". Pardner, save yourself the cost of the rental and sock it away towards the down payment on a pick-up truck.