A former bounty hunter called Joe Kidd (Clint Eastwood) is an all-round tough guy and the American reluctantly agrees to help wealthy landowner Frank Harlan (Robert Duvall) and his fellow henchmen track down Luis Chama (John Saxon), an extremely charismatic Mexican revolutionary leader, who is demanding land reform and makes the costly mistake of stealing Joe Kidd’s horses. A thoroughly watchable western that was originally released fifty years ago in July of 1972. It’s worth noting that Joe Kidd is now streaming on Netflix.
Director: John Sturges
Writers: Elmore Leonard
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, John Saxon
In what would be Clint Eastwood’s final western that was directed by somebody other than himself, Joe Kidd instantly struck me as a film that was as close to a European themed spaghetti western as you’re likely to get from a production shot and filmed in the United States. There was a wealth of spontaneous and wild shoot-out scenes, along with a multitude of over the top, bloody battles injected into the modest eighty-eight minute runtime.
As with the majority of western films made in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the costume and set design were of great quality with Arizona and California in the United States, sharing the filming responsibilities throughout. Not only was the flick visually appealing, but the score was also equally as noteworthy, adding tremendously to the atmosphere especially in terms of suspense, with Lalo Schifrin being liable for this.
As noted by a number of critics that have reviewed this feature, however, a minor downside would have to be the simplicity of the story, along with the predictability of some of the twists and turns that the filmmakers decided to inject. Despite these, the story was still enjoyable and it was one where you’d rarely find yourself confused by the events that were unfolding.
In terms of the acting, Clint Eastwood delivered his trademark cool, calm and collected western character in the form of Joe Kidd, while primary support reigned in from Robert Duvall and John Saxon who portrayed Frank Harlan and Luis Chama, respectively. Elsewhere, Don Stroud, James Wainwright and Stella Garcia also featured, adopting the roles of Lamar, Mingo and Helen Sanchez, all warranting a fair amount of screentime.
All in all, Joe Kidd might not be as profound as some of Clint Eastwood’s other westerns, such as A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) or even Hang ‘Em High (1968), but it’s a solid film that is more than worthy of watching. As previously mentioned, Joe Kidd is currently streaming on Netflix.
“Next time I’ll knock your damn head off.“
Joe Kidd – Joe Kidd
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