U.S.A. • 1969 • COLOUR • 35MM • 121 MIN

Ambushed and left for dead in the desert by his two companions, a prospector miraculously discovers a water-hole along a stagecoach route and sets up his own enterprise, all the while dreaming of the day when he will meet up again with the wretches who abandoned him to his fate.
This is Peckinpah’s most warm-hearted tribute to the pioneering ethos of burgeoning America, and Jason Robards gives a towering performance as the accidental entrepreneur. Fine support is offered by Stella Stevens, the town whore whom Cable comes to love and who is the most sympathetic heroine in all of the director’s work; by David Warner as a self-professed preacher to add to Peckinpah’s gallery of suspect religious leaders; and by Peckinpah regulars Strother Martin and L. Q. Jones as the despicable duo on whom Hogue seeks vengeance. It is an indulgent film perhaps, never more so than in a long funeral scene commemorating the end of a man and a way of life, but Lucien Ballard’s photography is breathtaking, and the film’s leisurely and affectionate observation shows a quite different side to the director’s personality: interestingly, it was his favourite of all his films.

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