I didn't see an existing topic, so here's a Groggy review:
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973) is better remembered for its tumultuous production than its content. Besides location problems and a round-robin of directors (Brian G. Hutton, pre-Jaws Steven Spielberg and finally Richard C. Sarafian), it gained tabloid infamy for the steamy affair between stars Burt Reynolds and Sarah Miles. Then came the mysterious death of Miles' neurotic agent/paramour David Whiting. This led to a long, humiliating inquest which ruined Miles' already-spotty career.http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2012/06/man-who-loved-cat-dancing.html
These sundry scandals are certainly more interesting than the actual film. The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing starts off well, then gradually drifts into oblivion. Like many '70s Westerns, it's an episodic ramble, which would be fine if it led anywhere.
Headstrong Cat Dancing (Sarah Miles) runs away from her repressive husband, stuffy businessman Willard Crocker (George Hamilton). Dancing gets caught up in a train robbery, and becomes the hostage of outlaw Jay Grobart (Burt Reynolds) and his gang. Jay and Cat slowly bond, while dodging violent Indians, intergang tensions and a posse headed by Crocker and Marshal Lapchance (Lee J. Cobb).
Cat Dancing starts out well, with an exciting train robbery and appealingly mismatched leads. Sarafian provides beautiful Arizona locations and a number of violent set pieces, especially a brutal slugfest between Grobart and his lieutenant (Jack Warden). But before long, the movie dissolves into an episodic mess. Eleanor Perry's script lacks any drive, spinning its wheels until the bottom drops out. The main hook is the effective Jay-Cat romance, but even this is undermined by digressions (a long, tedious sequence with Jay's Indian in-laws) and an anemic non-climax.
Burt Reynolds is perfectly cast, all rugged charm and frontier chivalry. Sarah Miles is fetching but seems out of place in a Western, Ryan's Daughter parasol and all. For a supposedly liberated frontier woman, she sure spends a lot of time getting rescued from rapacious ruffians. Jack Warden (All the President's Men) makes a hateful villain, and Bo Hopkins (The Wild Bunch) and Jay Silverheels (Broken Arrow) turn in dependable performances. On the negative side, Lee J. Cobb (On the Waterfront) is wasted and George Hamilton (Rough Riders) is laughably miscast.
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing is a middling Western. With a more focused storyline it could have been a classic, but it's destined to be a scandalous footnote in Burt Reynolds' career.6/10