I SAw A Film!

A great diatribe against the evils of pick-up truck debt exists in this big sky dramedy about a pair of livestock rustlers trying to get over on the wealthy big ranchers and have the ability to pursue some pleasures in life. It’s notable that there have been some great stories about the minor blue collar pleasures that float the lives of so many Americans. IMDB says this was written by Thomas Mcguane, buddy of one of my favorite novelists Jim Harrison, and much of the philosophy falls well into place once you understand that. In other words you’re gonna get some pot smoke and hand cannons while Bridges has his way with some cuties and argues with WWI veterans.

This film has Jeff Bridges and Sam Waterston, a great team if ever there was one, as a pair of petty livestock thieves eking out an existence in the shadow of wealth. Harry Dean Stanton turns in another of his casually excellent portrayals of a hired man following the trail of the rustlers, though he knows exactly who it is and is soon brought in on a bigger heist. Clifton James famous as the frustrated sheriff in the old Live and Let Die Bond film is the B-bar Lazy T ranch owner and is an easy target for the fellows to aim at. Slim Pickens joins the show midpoint as a serious detective who flies under everyone’s radar both physically and mentally. He’s not so much armed with a pistol as he is with his clever and utterly attractive niece played by Charlene Dallas. Pickens eats the food, tells yarns, acts the fool while in the background Charlene unravels the mystery. Every good story manages to bring the complexities of these social strategies into perspective. No empire or secret cabal survives where love can be manipulated, played off characters (Shakespeare style), or otherwise antagonized (Wild Wild Country style-sorry I can’t help this aside of when Osho meets a new lady, his former right hand woman loses her mind and brings down the enterprise).

A great movie makes us sympathetic to the entire ensemble. Circumstances beyond the control of all of us, Zen-like, self-transcendently, produce our actions. The philosophical leanings of the late sixties hippies are mature fruit here easily reached up for and picked. I have to say I miss this kind of tale, and thousands of Dirty Harrys can go down the drain while this gem gets ever more polished. Waterstone’s Cecil is a Native American decidedly happy to be disruptive by his perceived nature. His running joke with Bridges’ Jack is that coin walking across your fingers and card tricks are what you learn in prison and there’s little respect offered those skills.

There’s more about deception, hope, social fidelity and misguided affection in this film than in all of the loopy and oversaturated Game of Thrones. There I said it!

This runs free on Prime and has many great lines. Pickens himself delivers a few, one as he digs a round out of a dead steer and realizes the cartridge is from an old Buffalo rifle, “It’s getting downright romantic!” he crows.

4 thoughts on “Rancho Deluxe (1975)

  1. I’m really looking forward to getting into McGuane — I did a lot of Harrison over the years. Really great stuff, lots to identify with and invest in.
    This was a truly excellent film as well. I gotta give myself one once in a while! 🙂


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