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Overall Rating
1.75

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 16.67%
Average: 8.33%
Pretty Bad: 8.33%
Total Crap66.67%

1 review, 6 user ratings


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Tom Horn
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by Jack Sommersby

"Odious Oater"
1 stars

While it's a shame Steve McQueen's second-to-last film is this negligible, at least it might spur those who haven't seen his unfairly-scorned final film "The Hunter" to give it a go.

In the frustrating, lackadaisical Tom Horn, Steve McQueen delivers a good-natured but rather sleepy performance as the true-life rifleman in 1903 Wyoming who was first employed by the Stockman's Association to deter cattle-rustling and then subsequently framed by them for the killing of an unarmed teenager when Horn's phenomenal success at killing the rustlers gave the Association a black eye in the press. That's all there is to the story, and even at ninety-seven minutes the film comes off as overlong and underdeveloped, like a gaseous term paper bloated with delusions of grandeur. It took two talented writers, Thomas McGuane (Rancho Deluxe) and Bud Shrake (Songwriter), to concoct this inexplicably horrid screenplay that's chock-full of poor dialogue, lazy characterizations (which wastes the talents of not just McQueen but Richard Farnsworth and Slim Pickens) and numerous logic loopholes. It's never explained why Horn's actions wouldn't be applauded by the Association in that they're producing the exact results intended, why a secondary friendly character doesn't testify in Horn's behalf even after he's told Horn his testimony could help clear him, and, most importantly, why Horn just doesn't tell the sheriff and later the courtroom judge that he didn't commit the crime -- it's as if Horn all of a sudden went brain-dead or suicidal, and couldn't be bothered with the harsh realities facing him. There seems to be an entire middle section of the movie missing, because the story continually fails to add up on an even basic level; it were as if the studio ordered the editor to sabotage it in the post-production phase as some kind of grudge against McQueen to make him look bad for some reason or another. (Actually, they needn't, because the star doesn't put a whole lot of genuine effort into the proceedings: he's listless and underwhelming as he were a stand-in for the real star of the movie.) And not helping matters in the least is the mediocre William Wiard, a longtime TV director whose first feature-length film this is; and as is usual for directors with his kind of background, he's at a loss as to how to properly pace a narrative, put forth an expressive visual style, and even adequately place the camera in any given shot -- the already-flawed material gains practically nothing from being filmed: for all the wide-open production shooting in Arizona and Mexico, there's nary a picturesque widescreen shot to be found. The only refreshing element is the understated treatment of the romance that develops between Horn and an attractive blonde schoolteacher (an appealing Linda Evans): after a couple of early scenes, the rest of their screen time is in flashbacks while Horn is incarcerated, which admittedly gives these a bit of lovely, tragic regret. But not many other kind words are warranted for a production as a whole that's as unbelievably shaggy and shoddy as this. Like the title character, it's doom-laden.

It makes you want to jerk off to those old "Rawhide" episodes that are better than this clunker.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10318&reviewer=327
originally posted: 05/23/09 07:58:30
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User Comments

8/18/13 PAUL SHORTT PLEASINGLY PHOTOGRAPHED, BUT DISAPPOINTINGLY BORING 1 stars
11/24/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess A fine gritty western with some solid social commentary 4 stars
8/25/04 bobby K haunting and disturbing story well told 4 stars
8/10/04 John feels like a well made TV western - enjoyed the focus on the charachters 3 stars
8/05/04 Jack Sommersby A botch, despite good cinematography and an affecting McQueen. 2 stars
8/05/04 tatum Stunning bore, I was as sleepy as the cast looks 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  28-Mar-1980 (R)
  DVD: 31-May-2005

UK
  28-May-1980 (15)

Australia
  28-May-1980 (M)




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