7.1/10
3,835
67 user 24 critic

Will Penny (1967)

Approved | | Romance, Western | 10 April 1968 (USA)
Aging cowboy Will Penny gets a line camp job on a large cattle spread and finds his isolated cabin is already occupied by a husbandless woman and her young son.

Director:

Tom Gries

Writer:

Tom Gries
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlton Heston ... Will Penny
Joan Hackett ... Catherine Allen
Donald Pleasence ... Preacher Quint
Lee Majors ... Blue
Bruce Dern ... Rafe Quint
Ben Johnson ... Alex - Flat Iron Ranch Foreman
Slim Pickens ... Ike Walterstein
Clifton James ... Catron
Anthony Zerbe ... Dutchy
Roy Jenson ... Boetius Sullivan
G.D. Spradlin ... Anse Howard
Quentin Dean ... Jennie
William Schallert ... Dr. Fraker
Lydia Clarke ... Mrs. Fraker
Robert Luster Robert Luster ... Shem Bodine
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Storyline

Will Penny, an aging cowpoke, takes a "line-rider" job on a vast cattle ranch requiring him to keep trespassers and squatters moving until they're off the property. Ironically, he discovers that the mountain cabin reserved for the line rider has been appropriated by Catherine Allen and her young son, Horace, whose guide has deserted them en route to Oregon to join Catherine's husband. Too soft-hearted and ashamed to kick mother and child out just as the bitter Rocky Mountains winter sets in, he agrees to share the cabin until the spring thaw. But it isn't just the snow that slowly thaws; lonely man and woman soon forget their considerable dissimilarities and start developing a deep, if awkward and unstated, love for each another. Beyond this, Horace finds in Will the father he's never known, and Will finds in Horace the son he's never known he's wanted. The trio's little refuge is then invaded by Bible-quoting preacher Quint and his murderous family of "rawhiders", who'd earlier ... Written by Alfred Jingle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The brute in every man was also in him... And the love and the violence! See more »

Genres:

Romance | Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 April 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

...E o Bravo Ficou Só See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,400,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jon Gries admitted in an interview featured in the retrospective documentary on the Region 1 DVD that he was genuinely afraid of Bruce Dern. See more »

Goofs

Throughout the movie, Blue (played by Lee Majors) owns and drives a wagon. After the cattle drive is over, he drives his wagon away with his friend Dutchy riding with him. Will Penny (Charlton Heston) and Blue use the wagon to haul Dutchy to the doctor after he is wounded. In the final fight scene, Will and Blue use the wagon to attack the raw-hiders in the line shack allowing Will to jump onto the roof to pour the sulfur down the chimney.

Yet in the concluding scene, Will, Blue and Dutchy ride off on horseback leaving the wagon behind with horses still attached to it. See more »

Quotes

Will Penny: [Blue has just taken a shot of Catron's moonshine] How's she taste?
Blue: [Grimacing] Danged if I know... sure burns a dollar's worth...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in 'Halloween': A Cut Above the Rest (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

The Lonely Rider
Music by David Raksin
Lyrics by Robert Wells
Sung by Don Cherry
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Understated, undervalued and possibly under seen?
9 March 2010 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Charlton Heston stars as Will Penny, an ageing cowpuncher down on his luck and practically broke. After finding a spot of work down on the Flat Iron, Penny falls foul of some outlaws led by maniacal preacher Quint {Donald Pleasence}. They rob him and leave him for dead but he manages to find his way to a lineman's cabin where he is cared for by Catherine {Joan Hackett}, who is heading west with her young son to be reunited with her husband. Here Penny comes to learn things about himself, as does Catherine, but their relationship is not the only thing of concern to them. For Quint and his brood are coming back to finish what they started.

As widely reported these days, this was one of Heston's favourite roles. Which is not hard to believe since it is one of his finest and most earnest performances from what was a long and successful career. Directed and written by Tom Gries {who refused to sell the rights to his story unless he could direct}, Will Penny is an understated Western {Re;cowboy movie for those that need to distinguish the two} that shines because it relies on strength of story over histrionics and a pandering to the norm. This is no ode to the wild west, a time of gunslingers fighting it out and riding off into the sunset with the dame. This is the nitty gritty west, where cowboys are actually that, cowboys, working with beef so that they can afford to eat and perhaps enjoy a jar of throat stripper by way of a reward for their graft.

It's also refreshing to find a romance within the genre that is believable and not thrust upon us like some form of necessity. The relationship, and in fact the three family dynamic at the core of the film, is expertly written, not rushed or underdeveloped, and, crucially, not hurt by the bold and correct ending that Gries delivers. Hackett gives a lovely subtle turn opposite Heston, in a role that was turned down by a host of prominent female actresses at the time. Fine support comes from Pleasence {rightly overacting the role}, Ben Johnson, Lee Majors, Bruce Dern, Anthony Zerbe and Slim Pickens. While Lucien Ballard's cinematography is lucid and adds splendour to the moving story. I can't say that David Raksin's score totally works, since it at times feels like it belongs in some Universal Pictures creature feature! But it's a minor issue in what is an elegant Western that deserves, no, demands, to be sought out by more people. 8/10


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