Directed by John Sturges
Written by Elmore Leonard
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, John Saxon
Joe Kidd (Eastwood) is a former bounty hunter who’s been in and out of trouble in a small town in New Mexico. When his bail is paid by Frank Harlan (Duvall), Kidd reluctantly accepts his offer of a job hunting down a Mexican revolutionary (Saxon). Harlan is seeking to clear the leader and his followers from the land surrounding their small town. Now Joe is in the middle of a land dispute between the revolutionaries and the hired guns of Harlan.
This is another example of the way Westerns were made in the 70s. John Sturges (The Great Escape) took the reins in directing this film, which was based on the screenplay by Elmore Leonard (Jackie Brown). Together these two created a relatively common version of the West for the movie to take place in. Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven) was one of the kings of the Westerns in this era, and this movie is one of the many he starred in. In addition, this movie also features Robert Duvall (Get Low) and John Saxon (From Dusk Till Dawn).
This movie follows all the rules of the Western. Not necessarily the Westerns of men in white hats and villains in black suits. Instead, this Western takes on the Anthony Mann (Winchester ’73) version of the anti-hero. The flawed hero and the more flawed villains are almost expected, but this one still offers enough to be enjoyable. Like most of the Eastwood Westerns, this isn’t big on speeches and long exchanges between the characters. Much like A Fistful of Dollars, this one relies on saying only what is necessary. Despite the relative simplicity of the film, this does a lot of good things and works nicely.
The acting in this one is just like the writing, straightforward. The work from Eastwood and Duvall is perfect for the content of the movie. John Saxon also does a good job playing the Mexican revolutionary. Much like many of John Wayne’s characters, this seems to be a role built for Eastwood to succeed in. Robert Duvall also seems to have found the perfect role for himself in this one. Together, along with the rest of the cast, this one does enough to be enjoyable.
Like most Westerns of the period, this is an attempt to find a new way to spin the way a good guy is created. Unlike some great examples, this doesn’t do anything special. If you’re a fan of Westerns or the stars, this is one you should check out. I would also recommend this one to anyone looking for a fun movie that doesn’t ask too much from the viewer. I give this one 3 out of 5 stars.