Time: 112 mins.
Won Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Palance).
SYNOPSIS: Three middle-age buddies facing personal crises decide to sign up for a two-week cattle drive for a change of pace. The trail proves a tougher place than anyone thought, and the boss is a grizzled taskmaster who doesn't cotton to tenderfoot urbanites.
BOTTOM LINE: Crystal, Stern and Kirby are perfectly cast as an uptight trio of modern men that needs to blow off some serious midlife angst. Their personal problems are issues most of us can relate to, yet the writers and actors give them real truth and poignancy. That is until they get to the Wild West, where everything goes dangerously and hilariously wrong.
The open range is no place for crybabies. Crystal and the boys are forced to "man up" or die, a dilemma that soon has them facing their fears and re-engaging in life. Palance is brilliant as the unforgiving trail boss Curly, creating a truly memorable character out of a part that could have been merely a one-note joke. The exchanges he has with Crystal are priceless bits of comedy gold. Mostly because you're not sure Palance gets the jokes and partly because even though this is supposed to be funny, he exudes such a sense of menace you keep waiting for him to break character and kick Crystal's ass.
While some of the sequences play somewhat saccharine today, the heart of the film about finding your life's passion is a subject that will never go out of style. The message gets a little thick at times, but the humor usually dilutes it pretty quickly. Though this is mainly the Crystal/Palance show, Kirby and Stern give their cookie-cutter roles some depth as well. The ladies aren't really given much to do, but this is male-boding film, so it's hard to complain too much. The cast is clearly having fun on the range, which truly translates to the audience. A comedy gem that leaves me with a smile every time I watch it.