1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2010
Just Think Kirk Douglas in fine form as Cactus Jack (The Villain), also his horse OTT as (Whiskey) his original owner must have really trained him well a true scene stealer as well ( A pair of lovable Rogues, his name must mean Over The Top as his owner Cactus Jack always seems get himself set up and then Whiskey foils him in his deeds of trying to outsmart Arnold Schwarzenegger as Handsome Stranger (The Hero), and Ann-Magret as Charming Jones, and these two trying to gain her love, think Wile E Coyote and Road Runner this film is the LIVE version, that`s your movie, not the greatest film in the world but with Hal Needham directing you know his pedigree,stunt man on Blazing Saddles, Director on Smokey and The Bandit, and Cannonball Run that`s it result fun film
... it can cheer you up no end
Watch when you buy this dvd film it is under 2 titles Cactus Jack (UK and Europe) region 2 */* The Villain (USA) region 1 both available on Amazon
It has to be said, I would never have sent for this film were I not currently on something of a quest to find as many Paul Lynde movies as I can. I also would never have sent for it had I realised that I could watch the whole film, in its entirety, on YouTube (where it can be found as 'The Villain'). Nevertheless, it's a great family film (with one VERY major exception) as well as being the sort of movie where you reach the end and can't quite believe what you've been watching. But in a good way.
In terms of Extras, well, there really aren't any. Unless a trailer for 'Cat Ballou' counts? No - that's what I thought. You can hear the film in either English, French, German, Italian or Spanish though which is obviously useful - especially if you want to hear Arnold Schwarzenegger's lines delivered with feeling in one of the other four languages he doesn't attempt for himself here. There's also a United Nation's worth of subtitles to choose from (English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Bulgarian, Hebrew, Portuguese, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish and Turkish). The movie is 85 minutes long and is presented here for its purchasers' viewing pleasure in 1.85:1... whatever the heck THAT means.
Other reviewers have pointed out that this film, while being a gentle spoof of the western genre as a whole, also becomes a sort of 'live-action' Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner adventure. I completely agree with that, the only difference being that I don't recall Ann-Margret popping up (or, given her considerable attributes, perhaps that should be popping OUT...?) in anything Warner Bros. ever made. Her character here, Miss Charming Jones, provides a significant amount of aesthetic value to the film, although Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Handsome Stranger' seems surprisingly immune to most of her charms. Proof, if it were needed, that the future Governor of California never was too well-known for his brains. Or, indeed, his acting ability. If I were the Road Runner I would be insulted, frankly, that someone so wooden was selected to represent me in this film.
The cartoon / fantasy aspect to proceedings certainly extends to the scenery. All those horses, all those guns, and yet not one scrap of horse manure ANYWHERE? Never mind the Gold Rush... somebody out there in those days must have been making an absolute fortune growing and selling roses.
Plot-wise, we find Miss Charming Jones' father giving her the task of travelling through the Old West in order to collect and then deliver something of value. Her father's name is 'Parody', so that sets the scene for things to come right there. Arnie's character is an old friend of Parody's who owes him a favour, and it's agreed that he will meet Miss Jones halfway through her journey and then accompany her back. White hat and all.
Meanwhile in the black hat we have Kirk Douglas as 'Cactus Jack'. I was just about to say that his charisma, energy and surprisingly good comic timing are the three most memorable things about the movie but that would be doing a disservice to his horse, Whiskey... who gets far more laughs and is, at least in my opinion, a lot better-looking. Kirk was in his early sixties when he made this picture, but he must have been keeping a picture of himself up in his attic or something at the time, because he throws himself around with all the energy of a man half his age.
Of course, two other things might help to explain Cactus Jack Slade's vim and vigour: first, he has signed up for a crafty scheme to steal Ann-Margret's treasures... and second, he has big plans to steal Ann-Margret's heart. Well, to 'ravish' her anyway.
Actually, the more the action cuts away from Kirk Douglas and concentrates on Arnold Schwarzenegger, the more you realise just how good old Spartacus is. It's not even that Arnie is bad (he's atrocious - but I was trying to be nice): but his character is, by design, so squeaky clean that he is just downright boring. Even Ann-Margret becomes a bit tiresome to watch, once you know that her scenes are practically always going to be opposite him.
The film becomes dafter as it goes along, culminating in an ending that is incredibly silly indeed although I'm pretty sure that was the desired effect. I actually think the earlier parts of the movie, where director Hal Needham is still setting up the parody side of things, are even funnier. In particular, there's a stuttering 'Telegraph Agent', played by someone called Mel Tillis, who is absolutely hilarious. I think I read somewhere that the actor really did stutter but that the affliction would disappear when he sang. Whatever, his scene with Arnie early on makes me laugh out loud.
All of which brings me to Paul Lynde, for whom this movie (made in 1979) was the last film project (he popped his clogs in 1982). He plays Nervous Elk. I've just realised that I don't know the proper politically correct way of describing this character so I'll just call him a Caucasion Sitting Bull - with laughs. The role is nothing special and, in lesser hands than his, would have been forgettable (at best) or horribly offensive (at worst). As it is he seems to have been the sort of comedy actor who, while always playing a variation of the same character, could bring a touch of wacky class to any project, making Nervous Elk very enjoyable to watch. He even manages to get his trademark laugh into things, bringing an additional touch of 'The Hooded Claw' along with him.
Nervous Elk does have one line though which, for me, makes the fact that this film is rated 'PG' quite inexplicable. It involves a word of four letters beginning with 'P' and, while it is reasonably funny because of his delivery, it is a shocker to hear it in a film that's been rated suitable for kids. The word even appears in all its glory in the subtitles too, so it's not just my ears playing tricks on me. Come to think of it, the rest of that line isn't what I would really call 'family-friendly' either. Or maybe I'm just really, REALLY old-fashioned?
Still, it doesn't change the fact that this is an inventive and entertaining movie. And, as I'm rapidly beginning to realise, anything with Paul Lynde in it is always going to be worth watching, at least in part. Arnie and his, admittedly very convincing, portrayal of a plank of timber is something of a downside to the film though.
Mind you, on the other hand, he makes Kirk Douglas look even better!