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Author Topic: The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970)  (Read 10608 times)
The Firecracker
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« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2009, 10:10:12 PM »

Underappreciated.
Not very original story but the performances by Robards, Warner and (yes) even Stella Stevens more than make up for it.


8/10

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« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2009, 10:49:31 PM »

I remember reading Paul Seydor's Peckinpah: The Western Films and him trying to analyze the film as a Western version of The Tempest. Sam was a big Shakespeare fan from what I gather.

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« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2009, 11:32:23 PM »

Hogue is one my favorite movies. It isn't a perfect by any stretch: the preacher character isn't all that captivating, it meanders a bit, contains a singalong, borrows a bit too much from TWB thematically in the final moments. In spite of that, this movie has a ton of charm (yeah, weak explanation) and Robards, for my money, is the greatest film actor of all time. In some ways, its enchanting atmosphere is reminiscent of Rio Bravo. To me, any potential flaws are negated by Robards and Sam. What a movie. I need to buy this ASAP, I haven't seen it in quite a while.


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« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2009, 04:22:02 PM »

Some Groggish commentary...

Quote
Yet another belated addition to our list of prominent directors perused by the blog is Sam Peckinpah. Instead of analyzing his more character-defining classics (Ride the High Country, The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs), our first review will be his more low-key, light-hearted The Ballad of Cable Hogue, pretty much as far from a Peckinpah film as one could imagine - at least at a glance.

Cable Hogue (Jason Robards) is a grizzled prospector left for dead in the middle of the Arizona desert by, Bowen (Strother Martin) and Taggart (L.Q. Jones). After several days' wandering, he accidentally finds a mudhole which he digs out to find a spring of fresh water. Cable gets the idea to build a stagecoach stop in the parched desert, . In the process he meets a wandering preacher (David Warner) and falls in love. All the while, however, he is awaiting the inevitable return of his old partners, hoping to gain revenge.

With Ballad of Cable Hogue, Peckinpah moves drastically away. Most of Peckinpah's Westerns are a curious mixture of the nihilistic violence and cynicism introduced in the Western genre by films like Vera Cruz and The Magnificent Seven (and of course Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns), and yet also maintain a large degree of John Ford-inspired sentimentality and nostalgia for the good old days. Here Peckinpah whole-heartedly embraces Ford's sentimentality, musing on the death of the West in a lyrical fable. The film's violence is muted and virtually non-existant; the most gruesome scene is the shooting of a Gila Monster in the film's opening, and the human body count is remarkably low (especially considering this film came directly after The Wild Bunch). Though set up as a story of revenge, it's also a gentle, nostalgic musing about a man who found water where it wasn't and made an unlikely name for himself - and also, how the Old West was killed (literally in this case) by the closing of the frontier and the advancement of technology. That Peckinpah is able to tell this story without resorting to his usual tricks of bloody showdowns and overwrought machismo is quite admirable - it's a pity that this side of Peckinpah (along with his creativity) would disappear amidst the haze of booze, drugs and women that would soon overtake him.

The primary criticism that can be levelled at the film is that it is rather sluggish in pacing. The film's storyline is interesting but never quite takes off in its own right; the film is interesting for its characters, writing and technical aspects, but the slow pace and simplistic narrative hurt the film at times (as a few very out-of-place cartoonish elements, including a winking dollar bill and use of slapstick fast-motion in several scenes). Peckinpah defuses the traditional, expected resolution to the revenge story with anti-climax, which is fine, but subsequently provides an overwritten, badly drawn-out and heavily sentimental conclusion that strikes a false note. The film isn't fatally harmed by these problems, but it does prevent the movie from reaching the level of Peckinpah's masterpieces.

Peckinpah's direction is top-notch; more restrained than usual, he eschews his usual style to mostly positive results. The film isn't necessarily identifiable stylistically as a Peckinpah film, but then it isn't necessarily supposed to. Lucien Ballard provides beautiful landscapes of the Arizona desert, and Jerry Goldsmith's score is subtle and effective. The film's handful of songs (especially "Butterfly Mornings") mostly fit into the story and, unlike Bob Dylan's intrusive, obnoxiously twanging score for Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, generally enhances the story.

The cast is wonderful. Jason Robards is a bit hammy at times, but he's very well-suited for the part, bringing a combination of humor and tragic gravity to Hogue. (It's hard watching this film to not think of his previous year's turn as the romantic outlaw Cheyenne in Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West - another favorite we must address in the near-future.) Stella Stevens is superb; beautiful, feisty, and very much an independent woman, she is about as far from Peckinpah's wonton sex object stereotypes (at least those provided by his critics) as one could get, and her chemistry with Robards is wonderful. David Warner is hysterical as the drunken, lecherous priest who becomes Hogue's best friend. Farther down the cast list are solid Peckinpah regulars Slim Pickens, Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones, and, strangely not playing a preacher, R.G. Armstrong.

The Ballad of Cable Hogue is a bit slight (and slow) for its own good, but it's a pleasant-enough film worthy of at least a work. At the very least, it shows a very different side of Peckinpah than most of his work.

Rating: 7/10 - Recommended


http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/04/ballad-of-cable-hogue.html

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« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2009, 04:06:06 AM »

Each film has to play for an audience who go to see it unprepared. I'd call that a first look.

When you look at it with some knowledge of Sam Peckinpah, the picture appears to be
different and most 'natural' to Sam really.
One of the stupid things about mankind is the typecasting thing. Sam dealt a lot
with violence, but not only of course. Especially in his first 13 years. THE WESTERNER is about character
& a more realistic view of the west. THE RIFLEMAN reflects Sam's youth of growing up in a western
surrounding, thought by 'real' westerners like his father & grandfather.
RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY again. A portrayal of his father & reflection on the dying of the old west.
DUNDEE is a bit different, after not his story. But he worked out one of his favorite themes 'guilt'
pretyy well and close to him.
NOON WINE is literature put into movie poetry. Again about character.
BUNCH overshadows everything because of the impact it had. We're happy it is what it is
(my favorite film next to Easy Rider) but if he'd knew what would come in the 70's, he might have
dealt with grafic violence differently.
Because his heart was really with stuff like Cable Hogue, Junior Bonner & Alfredo Garcia.

Sam studied drama, was a devoted fan to Tennesse Williams.
The typecasting (and his erratic behaviour of course) made people offering him
KILLER ELITE & CROSS OF IRON instead of Jeremiah Johnson &  Cast Away.

He still became one of the best filmmakers ever, but was deeply saddened
that almost no-one appreciated CABLE, BONNER or GARCIA back then.

They are so personal to him, 'hard to find the work of a big commercial
film maker that comes close to that identification!

As for CABLE: Sam's grandfather was a pioneer of the west. He was responsible
for bringing water to a big desert-like part of California. He found water where it wasn't.
Sam's tribute to him.
Religion was a big thing with his family (hence the priest. Peckinpah portrayed
religious people often very cynical - they pray but steal the next moment.
a very realistic view of the world Smiley
Sam loved whores, therefore we see here a very different and touching
(too romantic for some) relationship beetween an outsider and loner (Sam)
and a female outsider (any nice whore probably Smiley

So when you know about Sam, it all becomes obvious: the films some viewers without knowledge
call 'less typical Peckinpah films' are in the truth the really typical Sam Films.

But Sam became famous for his spectacular work.
Just like John Ford who in between his big films made low budget
personal films, Sam wanted both.
Sam going over budget all the time kept him from making more
personal small films.  Unfortunately.

L.Q. telling me how it rained snakes on him all day long:




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« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2009, 11:47:00 AM »

Underappreciated.
Not very original story but the performances by Robards, Warner and (yes) even Stella Stevens more than make up for it.


8/10

What do you mean "not very original story"??  Huh

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« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2012, 06:26:11 PM »

NOON WINE is literature put into movie poetry. Again about character.

I took the opportunity to watch this at the Library of Congress in Washington DC today. Definitely an hour very well spent  Smiley

With Jason Robards playing the lead role, I think it would be the perfect extra feature on a nice Blu-ray of The Ballad of Cable Hogue"

Now I see why Peckinpah was such a fan of Kurosawa's Rashomon.

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« Reply #22 on: August 23, 2012, 03:04:21 AM »

Was it in color ?

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« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2012, 05:30:56 AM »

Yes, apparently a donation to the library by Robards. It seemed to be a digitized version of a color TV recording (obviously not the original airing from the 60s which would have been b&w I assume). The quality was not great, but perfectly watchable.

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« Reply #24 on: August 23, 2012, 11:45:50 AM »

Oh great! Congrats.

I have it only in b/w, but it was shot and aired in color!
Only two or three color copies still exist. Never saw it in color.

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« Reply #25 on: August 24, 2012, 04:48:29 PM »

If you do any more extras for future Peckinpah releases, you should definitely lobby to get this included. The rights can't cost that much seeing as ABC seems to care little for it.

It would certainly boost the sales of a BD of "The Ballad of Cable Hogue"

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« Reply #26 on: November 20, 2014, 11:01:10 PM »

I started watching The Ballad of Cable Hogue tonight; after an hour and fifteen minutes I decided to cut my losses and stop throwing good time after bad. This is a shitty movie. But I'm usually not interested in comedy and don't like Peckinpah, so, what the hell ...

Btw, reading through this thread, I see discussions of Noon Wine which some of y'all hadn't seen; DJ posted a link to it a little while ago, here it is http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=11517.0 (I actually liked Noon Wine).

I guess that my extreme dislike for Peckinpah is cuz of how many people think he was so great. Looking at it as compared to any other director, ok, he made a few decent films; but when I hear all this talk about him being so great, ugghhhhhhh

The Wild Bunch is alright but insanely overrated, Junior Bonner is decent, for a little tv movie I enjoyed Noon Wine, but IMO this idolization of Peckinpah is crazy.

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« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2014, 02:07:07 AM »

In others opinions obviously not.

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« Reply #28 on: November 21, 2014, 04:44:41 AM »

This is the way I look at it, of all of the Westerns that belong to a curious quasi comedy sub genre of Westerns, those Westerns that were quasi spoofs that also included what were basically "music videos" The Ballad of Cable Hogue was the best of the lot.

The Music Video Westerns or MVW's

Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969)
The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970)
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
The Duchess & The Dirtwater Fox (1976)

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« Reply #29 on: November 21, 2014, 05:25:21 AM »

This is the way I look at it, of all of the Westerns that belong to a curious quasi comedy sub genre of Westerns, those Westerns that were quasi spoofs that also included what were basically "music videos" The Ballad of Cable Hogue was the best of the lot.

The Music Video Westerns

Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean


perhaps, but I didn't like BC&tSK much. Haven't seen TLaToRB

I once called called BC&tSK a schizophrenic movie; you can say the same about TBOCable Hogue.

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