Monte Walsh

A stunning debut Western for cameraman-turned-director Fraker, chronicling the death of an era as two cowboys (Marvin and Palance) ride into town to find that a bleak winter has brought hard times. Eastern capital has moved in with new methods, jobs are hard to come by, and the pair buckle down to the only work they can get, watching morosely as more and more men are laid off. Gradually the mood darkens. An old cowboy, ending his days in the humbling task of fence-mending, rides his horse crazily over a cliff. Old friends disappear, to return with the law on their heels as desperation drives them to rustling or robbery. Palance (brilliantly cast against type) decides to quit and become a storekeeper; and Marvin, after proving something to himself by taming a bronc no one else could handle, proves something else by rounding on the owner of a Wild West show who offers him a job ('I ain't spittin' on my whole life'). Thus far the film is relatively naturalistic, gently elegiac in tone; but after Marvin's nocturnal encounter with the horse, a strange twilight falls (the twilight of the gods, no less). Fate strikes twice at his life; he is forced to assume the traditional role of gunman; and in settings formally drained of colour, he embarks on his revenger's tragedy... A rare treat.

Release details

Duration: 108 mins

Cast and crew

Director: William A Fraker
Screenwriter: David Zelag Goodman, Lukas Heller
Cast: Lee Marvin
Jack Palance
Mitch Ryan
Jeanne Moreau
Jim Davis
Bo Hopkins
Michael Conrad
GD Spradlin
Allyn Ann McLerie
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