Wild Rovers

During his long and interesting career, director Blake Edwards made about 3 dozen films.  Although well known for his comedies such as “The Pink Panther (1963),” “The Great Race (1965),” and “10 (1979),” Edwards occasionally directed dramas such as “Days of Wine and Roses (1962)” and “The Tamarind Seed (1974).”  He also directed an excellent western in 1971 called “Wild Rovers” which stars William Holden, Ryan O’Neal, and Karl Maldon.

Wild Rovers

In a buddy film that features a cattle drive, a bank robbery and an elongated chase through the breathtaking Utah landscape, Holden and O’Neal’s lust for life in Wild Rovers causes them to make crucial mistakes as they make their escape from cattle baron Maldon’s vengeful sons, played by Tom Skerritt and Joe Don Baker.  Holden and O’Neal’s relationship reminded me of George and Lennie in John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”  O’Neal is lot smarter than Lenny but he makes a lot of dumb mistakes — including joining a poker game with a very bad and violent group of men.  Holden, playing a grizzled cowboy, robs a bank by holding the banker’s family hostage, but he leaves enough money to cover Maldon’s payroll.  Maldon sends his sons to get O’Neal and Holden anyway.

Holden and O’Neal dream of getting their own ranch, and convince themselves to rob the bank.  On the run, they start off with one horse, add a mule and then Holden captures and breaks a wild horse.  It really looks like Holden on the horse, although the film probably used a stuntman.  A 70 mm version of the film exists, with tremendous views of the filming locations, including Arches National Park in Moab, Utah.

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