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Sunday, February 14, 2016

YOUNG BILLY YOUNG (1969)

Western specialist Burt Kennedy sometimes wrote, sometimes directed, sometimes did both, rarely with distinction. Early collaborations with Budd Boetticher gave way to standard-issue fare*, often tinged with a coarse, obvious comic angle. But there’s little comedy in this one (not much drama either, come to think of it), with Robert Mitchum taking on a temporary Deputy Marshall job in a lawless town to trap the man who killed his son. (Beware risible subliminal visual flashbacks.) On the way, he picks up sharpshooter Robert Walker, Jr., something of a surrogate son, and their contentious relationship pretty much runs the rest of the show. Lazy stuff, with poorly staged interiors and a climax that’s seems to finish before it starts. You do get to hear Bob amuse himself singing the insipid title track, and Angie Dickinson hangs her shingle up as a squeezable tart. Elsewise, the film should have been a showcase for Walker, but he loses the natural charisma war to erstwhile pal David Carradine whenever they share the frame.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: *Mitchum ended his feature film career on Johnny Depp/Jim Jarmusch’s artsy, little-seen DEAD MAN/’95, an acquired taste of a Western that’s anything but standard-issue.

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