It’s 10:23 pm
Its been hot as blazes here in SE Michigan this week. The cheetah and myself have been doing some yard work,okay…I have been doing the yard work and Paladin has been supervising through the patio door. He is a bit upset that the last two films we have watched have either scared him or made him toss up his treats.
So when I told him we would watch a great western,he was a little wary….we watched his namesake in “Have Gun,Will Travel” but he also endured 20 minutes of Kevin Sorbo’s “Jesse James: Lawman” which was beyond terrible.
To calm his fears,I told I had snagged a copy of 1982’s “The Shadow Riders”while hunting at Disc Replay. I told him it had Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck and that was good enough for him.
So why are we reviewing a 35 year old TV movie? Because its a damn fine piece of movie making packed with humor,family and a just enough gun play to keep things interesting. Plus,the finest Western writer,Louis L’Amour wrote it especially for Elliott and Selleck after they starred in 1979’s “The Sacketts”. The two stars had such a great time filming “The Sacketts” that they asked Louis to write a movie just for them. Thus “The Shadow Riders” was made after the novel was released. Jim Byrnes wrote screenplay for the film.
The movie starts out with in 1865 and the Civil War is nearing the end of its bloody and tragic run. Confederate Dal Traven (Elliott) is facing a Yankee firing squad when he is rescued by Major Cooper Ashbury (Geoffrey Lewis). Ashbury tries to recruit Dal to keep fighting with his small company but all Dal wants is to go home,”To work the land instead of blowing it the hell up”. The two men shake hands and go their ways.
Next we meet Mac Traven (Selleck) who is enjoying the company of a young lady. He is a Union Captain and has fought with Sheridan to Georgia. When he finds out the war is over,he too,starts the trek home to Texas and his family.
When Dal,still wearing his gray uniform,stops two horses thieves and brings them into a small town to the law,he runs into a real hornet’s nest. Lucky for him (and us),Mac happens to be in the same town. After a small discussion,Dal is freed from a lynching and the brothers head home together.
When they arrive they find out their has been hit by Confederates and many citizens,including Dal and Mac’s siblings and Dal’s girl,Kate Connery (Katherine Ross) have been taken to be sold in Mexico. The brothers ride off to the rescue but they need the help of their Uncle Black Jack(Oscar winner Ben Johnson) to pull it off…..but with Jack being in jail,things look a little gloomy for the Traven family. Will they be able to rescue their kin? How is behind such a terrible incident? How did Uncle Black Jack end up in jail?
Like I mentioned,this is a fun movie. Directed by the prolific Andrew V. McLaglen,who helmed over 110 episodes of Have Gun,Will Travel as well several big and well known films. McLaglen is in his element here,his deft hand keeps “The Shadow Riders” moving quite briskly during its 96 minutes. There are no wasted actions and the script rings true.
L’Armour always focused more on his heroes being good men more then being faster on the trigger and there is a scene at the end where Dal has a chance to settle the score with the man who stole his family. Instead,he nods head,acknowledges a debt settled and lets the man go. Its a glimpse of honor that is so rarely seen in today’s films.
Elliott and Selleck love doing westerns and it shows here. The easy give and take between the two is the glue that holds “The Shadow Riders” together. One can see why they wanted to do more films like this. Sadly,other then a very FEW exceptions,the American western movie has faded from sight and we are left with watching a great 35 year old film.
One sad part about this film- it was the last on screen appearance of actress Dominique Dunne who was murdered by her ex-friend 30 October 1982.
The cheetah and I loved this one and we give it a high paws/thumbs up.
While this is a Sony Pictures release,there are no special features on the DVD.
This film is rated PG.
What is your favorite western TV show or movie? Let us know in the comments below,we’ll love to hear from you!!