Sunday, 3 March 2019

On Blu-ray - John Snadden enjoys a near forgotten Sam Peckinpah THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE

Japanese poster
After the cinema tumult of THE WILD BUNCH, director Sam Peckinpah's next film was a much quieter, more reflective movie.
THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE (1970) is a Western starring Jason Robards as a drifter given a second chance at life after being left for dead by criminal cohorts (Strother Martin and LQ Jones virtually reprising their characters from The Wild Bunch). 
The film was a financial disaster on its initial release and remains mostly unknown to all - but cinephiles. The recent Blu-ray edition is very welcome and a great way to see one of the movie gems of 1970s film-making.
THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE is a well spun tale which hosts a colorful cast of desert dwelling miscreants and misfits, with wonderful performances by Jason Robards and David Warner, plus a career high for Stella Stevens as the angelic Hildy (she was particularly miffed at not receiving an Oscar nomination for this role).
Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, The Ballad of Cable Hogue
It's a narrative of light and dark with many shades in between, and wide ranging allusions to religion, capitalism, and modernity. Lucien Ballard's cinematography beautifully captures the shifting hues and tones of the Nevada desert.
For anyone interested, there's a reasonably easy-to-find 1972 book titled SAM PECKINPAH: MASTER OF VIOLENCE about the making of THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE. which is a lively and entertaining read. The author, Max Evans, was a close friend and colleague of director Peckinpah.

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