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Will Penny [DVD] [1968]

4.4 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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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: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Turkish
  • Dubbed: French, German, Italian, Spanish
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Mar. 2003
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000085ROF
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,901 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Just back from a cattle drive, a range-wandering loner looking for work in the wrong place offends a family of outlaws who then come after him. His escape leads to another trap - a love-hungry woman.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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Charlton Heston stars as Will Penny, an ageing cowpuncher down on his luck and practically broke. After finding a spot of work down on the Flat Iron, Penny falls foul of some outlaws led by maniacal preacher Quint {Donald Pleasence}. They rob him and leave him for dead but he manages to find his way to a lineman's cabin where he is cared for by Catherine {Joan Hackett}, who is heading west with her young son to be reunited with her husband. Here Penny comes to learn things about himself, as does Catherine, but their relationship is not the only thing of concern to them. For Quint and his brood are coming back to finish what they started.

As widely reported these days, this was one of Heston's favourite roles. Which is not hard to believe since it is one of his finest and most earnest performances from what was a long and successful career. Directed and written by Tom Gries {who refused to sell the rights to his story unless he could direct}, Will Penny is an understated Western {Re;cowboy movie for those that need to distinguish the two} that shines because it relies on strength of story over histrionics and a pandering to the norm. This is no ode to the wild west, a time of gunslingers fighting it out and riding off into the sunset with the dame. This is the nitty gritty west, where cowboys are actually that, cowboys, working with beef so that they can afford to eat and perhaps enjoy a jar of throat stripper by way of a reward for their graft.

It's also refreshing to find a romance within the genre that is believable and not thrust upon us like some form of necessity. The relationship, and in fact the three family dynamic at the core of the film, is expertly written, not rushed or underdeveloped, and, crucially, not hurt by the bold and correct ending that Gries delivers.
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Format: DVD
This is Charlton Heston's best western. He does not over do the drama like he did in other films.
In Will Penny you experience the harshness and toughness of cowboy life. Cowboys are destined to roam the West going from one ranch to another to find work. If you injure yourself you're no good anymore.
The winning factor is the fact that the cast look like real cowboys and the places they go look like something from a Charles M. Russell painting.
The great cast include Joan Hackett, Lee Majors, Donald Pleasance, Bruce Dern, Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens. Will Penny ranks with Shane as one of the most realistic and well made Westerns of all time.
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Format: DVD
From 1956 on, actor Charlton Heston kept an actor’s journal, which he published in two volumes, in 1976 and 1996. These are some of the most fascinating and valuable behind-the-scene writings published on the subject of studio filmmaking. In addition to these writings, Heston was also an exceptional and underrated visual artist. Often, when actors turn to painting, the result is less than memorable, and can even be downright painful. One thinks of Henry Fonda’s vapid watercolors or the recent, execrable “world leader” portraits by George Bush as painful examples. Heston’s visual art was an extension of his journals. His pen and ink drawings of makeup artists, stuntmen, cameramen, and technicians celebrated the unsung blue-collar workers. I was fortunate enough to attend a small showing of Heston’s extensive work and it remains of the most compellingly unique exhibits I have attended to date.

The story of the making of Will Penny (1968) is a standout entry in Heston’s “The Actor’s Life: Journals.” Heston was handed an incomplete script. Under normal conditions, the actor would have refused to read an unfinished screenplay, but Heston was so taken with the fragment that he immediately expressed interest in taking on the role of the aging, illiterate cowboy Will Penny. Heston was then informed that the writer, Tom Gries, was insistent on directing. When Heston inquired on Gries’ directing experience, he found it consisted of “a couple of television programs.” Heston put up a mild protest, but quickly changed his mind upon learning that Gries’ demand was unconditional. While it is fortunate that Heston compromised in what turned out to be one of his best and most underrated roles, his skepticism about Gries’ lack of experience had some validity.
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Will Penny is Charlton Heston's favourite movie role and for good reason. A great cast, script and cinematography combine under able direction to portray the itinerant lifestyle of the cowboy against the eternal themes of love, hate and fate in frontier Director Tom Gries avoids the romanticised western tradition and the cartoon violence of the emerging spaghetti western genre to focus instead on character development and authentic human detail. Heston is simply superb in the main role of Will Penny an ageing illiterate cowboy in search of ranch work in the wintertime. The supporting cast of familiar actors is also uniformly strong. Donald Pleasance in a trademark menacing role is mesmerising as the bible bashing preacher Quint, bent on his own style of slow revenge. Preacher Quint is one dude you just don't want to cross. Love interest is provided by the able Joan Hackett an abandoned mother who together with her young son are fated to seek male support in a an unforgiving environment. This is simply a stand out signature western movie where the harsh necessity of frontier life is always at hand, along with the tough choices and compromise upon which human survival depends. Will Penny is a must see, realistic western tour de force.
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