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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Wild Rovers'
(William Holden, Ryan O'Neal, Karl Malden, Lynn Carlin, Tom Skerritt, et al / DVD / NR / (1971) 2011 / Warner Bros. Archive Collection)

Overview: 'Wild Rovers' stars William Holden and Ryan O’Neal as a pair of cowhands in the employ of one Walter Buckman (Karl Malden). Ross Bodine (Holden) is turning 50 and lamenting his long life as a ranch man while Frank Post (O’Neal) is his young counterpart, eager to break out of being a cowpoke and make something of himself. Unworldly and unwise, the duo decide that the solution to both of their problems is robbing the local town bank!

DVD Verdict: What 'The Wild Rovers' lacks is a coherant story. There is a scene about two thirds into the movie when there is a gun battle. Holden enters the fray late only knowing one person in the fight. He sees the bartender with a gun in his hand and promptly shoots him dead. Why he did so is never really explored or explained (although other characters in the movie commented on the pointlessness of the act).

In truth, and for all we know, the bartender hadn't taken sides and was seemingly trying to restore the peace. The scene is instructive of the movie because there are many other people and events in the movie that go unexplained. The background of the two main characters goes largely unexplained.

Well, so what? Except that there is a scene in which Holden marvels at how two such different people became friends. Outside of the age difference, we pretty much have to guess for ourselves as to what else is different about them. There's a conflict between sheepmen and cattlemen which is rather historic during a period of Western history.

However, we could use at least a weak explanation as to why that is an issue istead of just accepting the hatred we find. The relationships between father and sons are ripe for exploration but we only see the results. On and on we get scenes and situations that look good on film but don't seem to relate to everything else we're watching. Maybe the answer was on the cutting room floor.

After all, I understand that Edwards had to cut about 20 minutes off the original film. However, blaming the film editor is like shooting the bartender!! [RK] This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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