“Alvarez Kelly” (1966) starring William Holden  » Movies  »
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  • It is however a western type movie with horses, cowboys, gunfights, and cattle stampedes

    • by tfedge
      all reviews
      “Alvarez Kelly” is a western about a cattle drive from Mexico northward then eastward to Richmond, Virginia. The color Columbia Pictures production lasts 116 minutes. Some of it was filmed on location in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The tagline describes the movie as “a herd of cattle against a herd of cannon!” This refers to the final few scenes where Confederate soldiers use stampeding cattle to help them run through Union troops who are trying to capture them.

      William Holden plays Alvarez Kelly. An independent beef procurer for the highest bidder: in this case the United States. He has brought 2,500 head of cattle from Mexico and delivered them to the Union army near Richmond Virginia. Holden won an Best Actor Oscar for his role as Sefton, the unlikeable prisoner in “Stalag 17) (1953). He also received nominations for “Sunset Boulevard where his Joe Gillis was lost in the shadow of Gloria Swanson’s Nora Desmond. He was also nominated for the 1976 movie “Network”


      but lost to fellow star Peter Finch.

      Richard Widmark stars as Colonel Tom Rossiter, a Confederate office charged with stealing the cattle from the Union Army. He blackmails Kelly’s into helping him. Oh, and he cuts off one of his fingers too. Widmark was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for the 1947 “Kiss of Death,” role Tommy Udo. He lost to Edmund Gwenn in the “Miracle of 34th Street. He played opposite Kirk Douglas in “Judgment of Nuremberg,” but his performance was weak. Widmark was a natural for the angry tough guy in noir films, but he never seemed to play anything else.

      Liz Pickering, fianc� to Rossiter, plays a southern woman who knows her own mind. In this case she knows she wants to escape from the South before the Confederacy surrenders. Kelly helps her escape with the help of Captain Angus Ferguson (Roger C. Carmel) a Scot through and through with plaid blood running through his veins. She is familiar ...


      • for her role as the former lover of Kirk Douglas in “The Swimmer” (see me Review Stream review). Her television and movie career lasted for forty years. She is noteworthy in that she turned down the lead opposite Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront,” a role Eva Marie Saint won an Oscar portraying.

        Edward Dymtryk directed. He was nominated for a Best Director Oscar for “Crossfire” a film noir classic starring Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Young and Gloria Grahame.

        Strictly speaking “Alvarez Kelly” is not a western. I tend to think of westerns as movies that take place primarily after the American Civil War but before the turn of the Twentieth Century and that take place primarily, well, in the American West. “Alvarez Kelly” does not meet either criterion. It takes place during the American Civil War, not after, and takes place just about as far east as possible and still be in the United States. It is however a western

        type movie with horses, cowboys, gunfights, and cattle stampedes.

        The movie has several sardonic remarks that are notable. When Alvarez Kelly (William Holden) treats southern belle Liz Pickering (Janice Rule) in a particularly ungentlemanly fashion she remarks, “thank God you’re not another of those honorable men.” At one point Kelly quips, “God deliver me from dedicated men.” Finally, in a sincere display of political incorrectness, the 1966 William Holden says, “now the main thing to remember is… cattle are like women. Sometimes you have to be firm with them. Sometimes you have to be gentle. And sometimes you have to give them a slap on the rump.”

        “Alvarez Kelly” is not a very good movie. For good westerns featuring cattle drives, “Lonesome Dove” is far superior. So is “Open Range” (2003) starring Robert Duval, Kevin Costner, and Annette Bening. Even “The Cowboys” with John Wayne, Roscoe Lee Brown, and a host of kids works better.

        I give “Alvarez Kelly” an 81% or a B-.




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