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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bite The Bullet (1975)

A 700 mile horse race across the American Southwest in 1906 attracts a disparate group of entrants. Among them: a former Rough Rider (Gene Hackman), a gambler (James Coburn), an ex-prostitute (Candice Bergen), an old saddle tramp (Ben Johnson), an English gentleman (Ian Bannen), an arrogant punk (Jan Michael Vincent) and a Mexican (Mario Arteaga). Directed by Richard Brooks (ELMER GANTRY) from his original script, this is a superior western. Brooks' screenplay falters briefly toward the end before recovering in time for the finale but for the most part, it's a thoughtful and intelligent western. It has a lot to say about winners and winning (the last shot is a beaut), about horse racing and the cruelty of it (pushing horses beyond endurance) and as two of the film's characters say, "the people some people marry". The actors are good except for Jan Michael Vincent though I'd venture to say it's more because of the ill conceived conception of his character than the actor. The justifiably Oscar nominated score is by Alex North. With Dabney Coleman, Jean Willes, Sally Kirkland, Paul Stewart and Robert Donner.

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