Saturday, October 13, 2012

El Crappo Grande: "She Came to the Valley" (1979)



Two Academy Award nominees, a Grammy Award winning singer, and Scott Glenn get mired in a horrible little western that is a chore to endure.

In the early part of last century, Willy (Ronee Blakley) and Pat (Dean Stockwell) move to the scrub country of Texas. Pat was hurt when a box fell on him, so Willy finds herself doing most of the work around their isolated ranch. Up rides Bill (Scott Glenn) for no other reason than to move the story along by suggesting the family move closer to the Rio Grande river. The couple and their two young daughters do so, settling in the brand spanking new town of Mission. Willy follows through with her dream of owning a store while racist Pat drinks more and more. The Texans worry about Pancho Villa (Freddy Fender!) looting the hamlet, and one night Mission is raided.

It turns out Bill has been running guns for Villa (when he's not making googly eyes at Willy), and the Mexican army has been putting on peasant clothing and pretending to be Villa's men, then raiding the American side of the border. Bill's captured, and Villa rides to rescue him, but only after Willy shames him into doing it.

This is another one of those films in the public domain (meaning the print is awful), and yet the story itself is just as unwatchable. While Stockwell tries to perform, Blakley spends most of her screen time staring off into space. The screenplay is full of "dramatic" moments that had me giggling- Pat's smashing of his leg brace against a wagon wheel, one daughter's attack by a rabid coyote, and most of the supporting cast consistently telling Willy what a wonderful person she is.

Pat dies...no, not a spoiler, this happens at the beginning of the film, but the way he dies is unintentionally hilarious. I began talking to the screen, MST3K-style, as the story wore on and on and nothing happened. Director/co-writer Albert Band did not seem to have any sort of plan when it came to shooting this film. You could hum along with poor Freddy Fender as he is forced to sing the awkwardly written title song, or feel embarrassed for the actors as they step on each other's lines and wait for Band to yell "cut," but I get the feeling what you will find yourself doing is not putting this thing in your DVD player in the first place.

She Came to the Valley," also known as "Texas in Flames," is the worst western I have seen since "Apache Blood" and "Texas Rangers." The considerable onscreen talent never had a chance. (*) out of five stars. Get this movie now!: She Came To The Valley