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Joe KiddUSA 1972
Directed by John Sturges
Running time 84 minutes
This direly awful Western from Clint Eastwood’s own Malpaso production company has the man himself as Joe Kidd, a gun for hire who provides his services to Frank Harlan (Robert Duvall), a wealthy landowner who wants to hunt down Luis Chama (John Saxon) the leader of a group of Mexicans agitating for land rights. But repulsed by Harlan’s ruthless tactics Kidd turns against his employer.
The script is credited to noted crime writer Elmore Leonard but it might have been written by a 10 year old it is so lacking in credibility and coherence. Eastwood plays his usual tobacco-chewing gunman of few words and it is his initial shooting of a Mexican on which the plot hinges. Why he shot the Mexican is not clear and very little about the plot thereafter makes much sense as it runs through a familiar sequence of routines involving the bad guys getting shot and falling off rocky outcrops, the tops of buildings (more accurately, studio-built frontages thereof) and so on, the good guys emerging unscathed and an improbably good-looking wench shoehorned into the proceedings.
Whilst the man-with-no-name character is always watchable for his sheer perversity and Robert Duvall turns in a nice performance as a Southern villain how this kind of lame fare which was common in the 1950s came to be made in 1972 beggars belief.