JOE KIDD [1972] movie review

October 12, 2013 · Print This Article

When I saw that JOE KIDD [1972] was directed by John Sturges and written by Elmore Leonard my expectations went up for this Clint Eastwood western. It turns out I was a bit too hopeful though as it seems everyone was basically phoning in their performances in this rather generic A-list western.

Not even Robert Duvall as the bad guy, the typical land owner trying to keep people off his land and get even more land, made this movie compelling. He seemed to come off as really evil, but ultimately never crosses the line to make the viewer really despise him.

Eastwood plays the same character he has many times before, perhaps finally getting tired of it by 1972. He of course is a badass, but a reluctant one. Duvall wants him to help track down a Mexican revolutionary trying to organize and prevent the land grabs that are going on by white settlers. This is the one wrinkle in JOE KIDD, and it was not developed enough. The Luis Chama character should have been developed more to grow viewer sympathy toward his plight, but like many things in the movie, it just felt rushed. Eastwood went from refusing to help Duvall in his hunt to in movie time one minute later saying he’ll do it.

There comes a standoff between Duvall in a small town holding hostages and Chama and his men holding the high ground up in the mountains. How this gets resolved seemed preposterous to me, as well as anti-climatic.

In the inevitable big shootout at the end, there was one set piece involving a train that was actually pretty cool. I wonder if they just thought up that and then reverse engineered an entire movie just so they could crash a train right through a line of buildings on main street.

It is hard to say that JOE KIDD is even a passable western, but if you are an Eastwood completest or die hard western fan, then it is still worth watching. The one standout for me was the Helen Sanchez character. I wish she had more part in the action. She was the most sympathetic character of them all to me.


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