Friday, September 28, 2012

Bitchin' a Ride: "Four Rode Out" (1970)

Pernell Roberts is Ross, a marshal who is after bank robber Julian Mateos. Mateos sneaks into town, tries to bed his girlfriend, Sue Lyon, and his caught by her father.

He runs off, headed to Mexico, and Lyon's father kills himself. Roberts comes to town, shadowed by Pinkerton agent Leslie Nielsen. Roberts leaves into the desert to find Mateos with Nielsen along for the ride. Lyon soon follows the two man posse.

This wannabe character study starts out okay. Roberts is the honest lawman on his last case. Nielsen is slimy as the detective whose sole goal is to kill Mateos. Lyon is a pretty bundle of nerves still trying to understand how her life ended up like this. Eventually, Nielsen rapes Lyon, promising not to kill Mateos in return. They finally stumble upon Mateos, and Nielsen goes back on his word, shooting and injuring him. Roberts tries to hold everything together so they can make it back to town.

In the desert, the film really degenerates. There is constant arguments about water. At least three horses break their legs and have to be shot. A subplot involving the fact that Mateos claims Nielsen was one of the bank robbers never pans out. By the time Roberts officiates at insane Lyon's and angry Mateos' wedding, the film makers had lost me.

The film was shot on location in Spain, but the editing does not live up to the seemingly endless, gorgeous desert. I was reminded of the work of Ed Wood, as scenes would end without a point, or feature insert shots of the actors doing something else besides acting. Nielsen is such a heavy villain, you do not care if he helped rob a bank or not, you just wish someone would shoot him and shut him up. Lots of inappropriate songs by Janis Ian and lots of scenes of people arguing over water while holding weapons on each other add up to a less than successful western.

Do not take a ride with this four. I cannot recommend it. (* *) out of five stars.