The Train Robbers (1973)

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  • From what I've read and heard, overall, Duke loved children and had a soft spot for them-no doubt. Mark Rydell told how, on the set of The Cowboys, the kids were constantly "all over" Duke (I think he said something like Duke was like a big teddy bear to them). I know that there were certain elements Duke wanted in his film for emotional involvement, to keep them entertaining for families. There weren't many films tho, where I think he let youngsters have big scenes unless he liked them (or the story called for it-The Cowboys, Cahill, Donovan's Reef).

  • VERY TRUE - Both Elam and Martin were superb character actors that grabbed the audience's attention.

    Cheers - Jay:beer:
    "Not hardly!!!"

  • I seem to remember this was one of the few movies Duke actually apologised in !!


    From memory he also apologised in the Undefeated ..... did he say sorry in any other movies ?

    Windage & Elevation !


  • The Train Robbers (Burt Kennedy, 1973) is mildly entertaining and lightly enjoyable, and I certainly prefer it to Rooster Cogburn (Stuart Millar, 1975). However, it's also slight and simplistic, and it needed a richer writer-director than Burt Kennedy to bring out greater depths and darkness, the kind of intricacy and tension that could have made the film something more than disposable entertainment. I didn't feel that Kennedy set up the bizarre, comically ambiguous "twist' ending with appropriate development, either. On the brighter side, Wayne's performance is quite sharp and fluid, really marking an alert groove. I love the silent rage the he suddenly displays at the end of Ann-Margaret's drunken diatribe.


    The Train Robbers is free of pretensions. It doesn't have to be more than it is. The film is focused on telling a straightforward story and depicting western characters in a certain way. Simplicity, not simplistic. Simplicity is not a bad thing, certainly not a flaw.




    I don't often find myself agreeing with Roger Ebert even when I find him interesting, which I usually do. But this is a fair review. I agree that Burt Kennedy's writing is not his best, but his story is sufficient, and it operates on traditional values that seem like virtues today because they are scarce and, if I may say so, needed. The Train Robbers harkens back to the late 1950s when Kennedy wrote those genuinely rugged, stoic, lean and terse westerns for Boetticher and Scott. Those were impressive films because they were so straightforward, minimalist, and austere. Dramatically The Train Robbers wants to unfold like Comanche Station (1960), Ride Lonesome (1958) and The Tall T (1957). That is how it's written. But it is timed longer and paced slower. It's a 75-minute western stretched out to 93 minutes. Perhaps it's just in the editing. The film is about fifteen-to-twenty minutes longer than it needs to be. If it were shorter, it would seem fuller and play out with more suspense. You wouldn't notice the holes. But you couldn't release a film that short in the 1970s, not with a major star in it.


    Technically, the craftsmanship on display is something you rarely see today. Visually, the film is real western, true western. I wallow in the hard light, the rich color, and the pristine scenery. There is dust, rain with thunder and lightning, mountains and rivers, and sunlight bouncing off surfaces and hat brims like some kind of blessing. Through these elements and nature ride men with honor. It's a photographer's western. Cameraman William Clothier was worth his weight in gold -- why don't people talk more about him? This is where his finest western photography resides for all time. The film is all about composition and movement, the pleasure of watching men and horses move across vast pictorial landscapes. It's eye candy, and I have thought so ever since I first saw it at the Hicksville Twin on Long Island on a freezing cold afternoon in early 1973. I was there for the first screening on opening day.


    I enjoy The Train Robbers and I prefer it over The War Wagon, The Undefeated, Cahill, and Rooster Cogburn. I think Big Jake could have benefited from Burt Kennedy giving the script his once-over and narrowing the focus on what's important. And getting rid of those damn motorcyles.



    Richard

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  • It's beyond me what you all see in this movie! During the day their being chased, or at night their sitting around a campfire watching Ann Margret get Tipsey. Rather watch the Conqueror!

  • It's beyond me what you all see in this movie! During the day their being chased, or at night their sitting around a campfire watching Ann Margret get Tipsey. Rather watch the Conqueror!


    What I see, is as an immensely enjoyable film from the last part of Duke's career. It has all the right ingredients, even if they aren't mixed quite right, making for one his best of the final ten he made.


    It never for one instant tries to be something that it isn't. It doesn't try to be of the grim and unrelentingly dark world of Peckinpah or midnight cowboy or Easy Rider. Instead this is John Wayne's response to the perverseness that was really beginning to show it's ugly head at the time. It's a throwback to those great and lighthearted films of the 40's and early 50's. It's a nice contrast to what was happening at the time.


    Regarding the faceless threat represented by the guys after the gold, it was meant to represent an natural force more than anything else I think. After all where's there's gold, there is bandits. They were more symbolic than anything else.


    One thing that I refuse to believe is that Rod Taylor is the voice of Pongo from 101 Dalmatians.


    The only thing that still bothers me about this movie is that Montalban seems superfluous. He is really an unnecessary character, who's functions could have been done by the plot.

  • I seem to remember this was one of the few movies Duke actually apologised in !!

    From memory he also apologised in the Undefeated ..... did he say sorry in any other movies ?



    "Horse Soldiers," "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon," and "El Dorado".

    Regards
    Robbie

  • It's beyond me what you all see in this movie! During the day their being chased, or at night their sitting around a campfire watching Ann Margret get Tipsey. Rather watch the Conqueror!



    There was one night attack in this movie in relation to the running off of horses.

    Regards
    Robbie