I Saw A Film!
A classic dangerous drifter running from his past drops into a town undergoing a criminal strongarming. Ever see Yojimbo? This is Yojimbo with Burt Reynolds as the mysterious ronin. Hell, they even mention ronin, though not quite by name. Burt’s Malone is done with the dirty life of killing for the CIA, and instead rides around in his old Mustang until it breaks down– under hood diagnosis, “Yup! It’s the Transmission alright!” (for half a second I thought this lack of vehicle smarts might be a plot point, but it’s just bad writing). Burt apparently had been pretty beat up from a mistimed stunt in a previous film, plus at 50, an age where many movie heroes are reaching prime, his toupee does not seem to fit quite right, his winking, smartass seems well tamped down, his sparkle a bit tarnished. He pumped out a few of these violent hero films in the 80s and I probably watched them all, Sharkey’s Machine being a particular fave. The BR swagger was movie gold, but it appears by the time Malone rolled out, all participants and lovers had lost their zeal for the last of the “real” movie stars. Or so we’re told.
So Malone, or Yojimbo, rolls into a dusty two horse town and immediately wins over a little cutie named Jo (who had just been on TV’s Fame) and her mechanically inclined pop (despite the wonky transmission diagnosis), ends up learning about the crime boss (Cliff Robertson, later to be Spiderman’s uncle in a few of the 00s films), and the crooked sheriff (played by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen), and is lured into duels and dust-ups which unfortunately outs him as a badass and attracts the attention of the serious spooks actually looking for his ass.
Gas bombs go off, and Burt’s Malone walks stiffly away from the flames in true badass form. To Burt’s credit he does not touch the young cutie, desperate for love in her small town, surrounded by hateful thugs. At least Malone does not get her shot or blown up. Then, skinny-butt Lauren Hutton is mailed out to take out Malone. Instead she ends up offed by the evil doers and, well, you know how this goes. This formulaic set up was at least not quite so worn out in 1987. Malone doesn’t dodge all the bullets but he sure does recover fast!
Running free on Prime in the states, and good for toupee selection purposes (TJ Hooker should not have been consulted).