Movie Review: Border Shootout (1990)
Border Shootout (1990)
Director: C. T. McIntyre
Cast: Michael Forest, Cody Glenn, Michael Horse
Synopsis: A new deputy comes into conflict with the unruly son of one of the town’s founders.
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Although Border Shootout is not a good film, it is a surprisingly likeable one. Perhaps that’s due to the fact that its source material is a novel by crime writer Elmore Leonard. Although Mr. Leonard novels are light on descriptive prose, he is very adept at using dialogue to build character while driving a story forward. And while some of those principles have survived the transition to screen via a screenwriter who clearly possesses little of Leonard’s talent, there’s no doubt that much has been lost during translation.
The story comes across as a little muddled, and it’s not really clear which is the main strand: the hijacking of law by parties out for their own gain, the rustling of cattle, the return to justice of a nose-chopping Indian, etc. Most of these various strands do actually tie up by the final credits, but it’s something of a tortuous path.
I liked the Charlene Tilton character in this film. Not because the top she wears repeatedly slides from one tawny shoulder, but because she displays a kind of moral ambiguity that is rare in a film as cheap as this. She’s cheating on her husband, a man who’s old enough to be her father, but instead of painting her as a cheap tart, Border Shootout portrays her as a thoughtful woman whose physical desires temporarily blind her to what is important. She never comes across as a bad person. Tilton’s also pretty good in the role, which is more than can be said for some of the other actors.
Cody Glenn is wooden as the film’s hero, Kirby Frye, who, it has to be said, is the most un-heroic hero you’ll ever meet in a Western. He’s repeatedly getting himself into scrapes from which he’s unable to extricate himself without first receiving a beating, and even when he does beat borderline baddie, Jordan (Russell Todd) in a fist-fight he ends up getting clonked on the back of the head. He comes good in the end, of course, but after so many humiliations that solitary victory just looks like a flash in the pan. Glenn Ford (Human Desire, The Last Challenge) also wonders in and out, smiling benignly before stepping aside to allow his stunt double to get to work. You kind of get the impression his character was a more minor one whose prominence was increased when the producers suddenly realised they could get the Glenn Ford to play the part.
Border Shootout looks like a cheap TV movie, and, as poor as the quality of the direction is, it still far outshines the editing, which is truly atrocious.
(Reviewed 27th January 2012)