THEY WERE DAMNED GOOD COWBOYS, UNTIL THEY ROBBED A BANK.
When two cowboys (William Holden, Ryan O’Neal) find themselves in an economic pinch, they decide to rob a bank and head for Mexico. It may be best known for the behind-the-scenes drama where the studio took the movie out of director Blake Edwards’s hands and had it recut… but the final results are in fact a very good Western, beautifully shot in Utah and Arizona and effectively scored by Jerry Goldsmith. The slo-mo, bloody action is obviously inspired by The Wild Bunch (1969), but the film also has a sense of humor and much warmth in its depiction of the friendship between the two leads. A moving performance by Holden.
1971-U.S. 136 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Blake Edwards, Ken Wales. Written and directed by Blake Edwards. Cinematography: Philip Lathrop. Music: Jerry Goldsmith. Cast: William Holden (Ross Bodine), Ryan O’Neal (Frank Post), Karl Malden (Walter Buckman), Lynn Carlin, Tom Skerritt, Joe Don Baker… Rachel Roberts.
Trivia: Also available in a 109 min. cut.
Last word: “What happened to ‘Wild Rovers’ really broke my heart, because that was the first time I began wanting to say something in the same way that ’10’, ‘S.O.B.’ and ‘Victor/Victoria’ would all become personal statements. Up until then, if somebody wanted a TV show about a slick private eye, I’d sit down and come up with a ‘Peter Gunn’ or a ‘Mr. Lucky’. And if somebody wanted a movie director whose work had a certain gloss anti sophistication, he’d get me to do films such as ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and ‘Operation Petticoat’. I’d never consciously tried to do or say anything different until I wrote this tragedy about two cowboys who stick up a bank and are eventually hunted down and shot to death. William Holden and Ryan O’Neal played those roles, and we went out and made a very fine movie – and then James Aubrey, who’d just become head of MGM, personally destroyed it. Aubrey took about a two-and-a-half-hour film and cut out something like 40 minutes by changing the ending and a lot of the relationships. The sad part of the whole thing was that we all enjoyed making it, and I’d become convinced that I was back on the road to having autonomy on my films and to making good money again.” (Edwards, Playboy)