The Culpepper Cattle Company (1972, Dick Richards)


(scherpschutter) #1

http://img411.imageshack.us/i/220pxculpeppercattleco.jpg/ [size=12pt]The Culpepper Cattle Company[/size] (1972, Dick Richards)

16 year old Grimes thinks life in town sucks, so he joins trail boss Mr. Culpepper, in the hope to become a real cowboy. He’ll soon learn the life of a cowhand is one of humiliation, boredom, random violence and only few moments of relaxation in-between.

At the same time a revisionist western and a coming-of-age movie, The Culpepper Cattle Company is an enjoyable ride all the way – or maybe I should say: nearly all the way. It’s deliberately paced and instead of telling a straightforward story, it seems more concerned with giving us a fragmented (but often incisive) impression of the harsh reality of frontier life. Phil Hardy typifies the movie as ‘decidedly a post-Wild Bunch western’. True, it has some of the grittiness and slow motion violence of Peckinpah movie, but the end is introduced by a turn which seems to refer to The Magnificent Seven (or Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai). When Culpepper moves on with his cattle after a conflict with a Land Baron and an encounter with a Mormon community, some of his men decide to stay with the Mormons, because a Land Baron whose land they have been trespassing (and who has ordered both the cattle men and the Mormons to leave), has taken there guns. Nobody has ever taken my gun, as one of them puts it. In the end they’re all killed, except for Grimes, who forces the Mormons to bury the dead, and then, symbolically, buries his own gun, because he’s appalled by the amount of violence he has witnessed. Like in Seven (both the Japanese original and the Hollywood remake) the ending illustrates the idea that those who live by the land, are stronger, and will live longer, than those who live by the gun or sword. But whereas Kurosawa used a subtle stroke to make his point, Richards throws you his message in the face, underlining it with – dear me – the overbearing tones of Amazing Grace.

The fragmented, episodic narrative leads to a certain amount of sluggishness, but overall this is quite an engrossing movie, well-acted by a cast of familiar faces: Luke Askew, Geoffrey Lewis, Matt Clark, Bo Hopkins, Charles Martin Smith (the boy who’s only ‘a little bit’ afraid of Pat Garrett in the opening scenes of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) – they’re all there and they’re all excellent. Billy ‘Green Bush’ is also very fine as the trail boss and Anthony James is terrifying as the stubborn and fanatic leader of the Mormons, Nathaniel (Land Baron: “This is my land!”. Nathaniel: “God’s land!”). The action scenes were coordinated by Hal Neednam (who also has a cameo), and the movie was also the first to be produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who would become one of the most successful movie producers of all time.


(El Topo) #2

I could check it out on IMDB of course, but wasn’t also Bruce Dern on it also?


(scherpschutter) #3

Don’t think so, but let’s see what IMDB has to say about it

Edit: Apparently not (would have recognized his face or voice, I’d say)


(El Topo) #4

Nope must have dream it.
This was from the same director from March or Die with Gene Hackman and Terence Hill, never saw it. Men another one that it will end up in the must see pile.
Nothing to do with it, but Monte Hellman got a new film (road to Nowhere cool title), that it’s a must see also


(ENNIOO) #5

Gritty film with some interesting spurts of action. Mormons were ungrateful for the help they received. Like Geoffrey Lewis when he gets mad when the boy stands behind him. Can understand the reasons why Bush did not break up the fight between two of his men, but still think he should have risked it and stepped in. And yes no Bruce Dern in this one.


(Chris_Casey) #6

I like this film OK. Not great, but not bad, either.
I think our amigo El Topo may be confusing this one with the John Wayne cattle-drive film THE COWBOYS. I know several people that, for one reason or another, get these two films confused even though they aren’t much alike.


(scherpschutter) #7

I think in reality he would have; every person was important on those trails. For this reason he would have protested too when those guys, near the end, wanted to go back to the Mormon camp to wait for this Land Baron ‘who took their guns’. I can see Gil Favor arguing with a hot-heated Rowy Yates in Rawhide. Culpepper would have no doubt tried to convince his men to give up their thoughts about revenge. But okay, that’s cinema, the film needed a spectacular ending (and we were counting on one)


(El Topo) #8

Yes that was the reason Chris :D, I think it may the photo or something.


(ENNIOO) #9

Well yes, that is where cinema takes over. When I get engrossed into characters I sometimes forget this.


(Starblack) #10

I love Culpepper - one of my favourite anti-Westerns.

When I first saw it, for some reason I thought it was going to be a film for kids; I was quickly disabused of that notion.