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SAM PECKINPAH MELLOWS FOR 'THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE'

Written in memory of L.Q. Jones Title: The Ballad of Cable Hogue Year: 1970 Rating: ***1/2

After making the Western to end all Westerns, THE WILD BUNCH, director Sam Peckinpah traded deadly gunfights with light romance and sped-up-camera-hijinks while THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE still remains a genuine Western, but more of a breezy, escapist fable and with somewhat of a TV-movie cadence...

Starring Jason Robards as the titular aimless, desert-dwelling hobo who, right off the bat, is double-crossed by two lowlife outlaws, providing Peckinpah-stable actors Strother Martin and especially L.Q. Jones the only roles that fit into the auteur's recent-past and limited future of gritty exploitation cinema...

Jason Robards in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE

But this BALLAD is far more accessible and cantankerously upbeat yet, while taking the usual endless potshots at Christians, is surprisingly positive towards another hated Hollywood subject, business... 

As the best scenes have our rambling hero, after accidentally finding water where it shouldn't be found, riding into town for the necessary means of... while clashing with comparably sophisticated bankers and loan officers (from Vaughn Taylor to Peter Whitney to R.G. Armstrong)... starting his very own 2-acre watering hole...

David Warner in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE

And while his new-found lady love in voluminous heart-of-gold hooker Hildy, played by a very natural yet spellbinding and no-nonsense Stella Stevens, is the central plotless plot-line, the male-buddy-relationship with roving sexed-up traveling preacher David Warner is the real heart of the matter... 

All loosely enveloped within a pleasant time-filler that, while spending too much downtime with corny songs and not enough detail into that rural-risky business venture, seems like Sam Peckinpah's own personal rags-to-better-rags Valentine for himself... the rest be damned, or, in this far more conventional case... darned. 

L.Q. Jones in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE and Strother Martin
L.Q. Jones in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE

Jason Robards in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE
L.Q. Jones in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE with Strother Martin
L.Q. Jones in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE with Strother Martin
Stella Stevens in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE
Peter Whitney in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE
Stella Stevens in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE
Stella Stevens in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE
Stella Stevens in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE
Stella Stevens in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE
Susan O'Connell in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE
Susan O'Connell in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE
L.Q. Jones in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE with Strother Martin
L.Q. Jones in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE with Strother Martin
L.Q. Jones in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE with Strother Martin
L.Q. Jones in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE with Strother Martin
Jason Robards in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE

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