The Ballad of Cable Hogue - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Ballad of Cable Hogue Reviews

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October 17, 2018
this is a ridiculously cute western
May 5, 2018
Sam Peckinpah was and still is synonymous with violence as many of his films remain highly controversial. Those films are also his most well known, which unlike many would believe, actually troubled the director as he wanted to make a statement against violence. It would probably also come as a shock to those people that not only did he direct a mostly nonviolent film, but of his works it was his favorite. That film is The Ballad of Cable Hogue - a strange hybrid of drama, western, comedy, and romance that was a box office flop at the time of its release and still remains only a niche film for all but the most die hard of Peckinpah fans. While I haven't seen all of his films, I will say this: I do agree with him that it was his best work. It's an unexpectedly tender, warm-hearted, and beautiful film in contrast to the blood-soaked grit of his other films. The story follows a prospector named Cable Hogue whose associates rob him and leave him to die in the middle of the desert. After four days without water and on the brink of death, he finds a spring where no one thought there was a spring. It also happens to be the only spring for 40 miles between Dead Dog and Gila. So, Cable founds a way station and becomes a wealthy businessman. He also befriends a sleazy, womanizing preacher named Joshua Sloane, falls in love with a prostitute named Hildy, and plots his revenge against the men who left him to die on the off-chance they stop by his station. While most films would struggle with so many genre and idea blends, The Ballad of Cable Hogue is a masterful blend of all these elements offering moments of beautiful drama or moments of gut-busting hilarity that will leave you red in the face and tears in your eyes. Not to mention, Jason Robards as Cable Hogue has got to be one of my favorite performances in a film, and the other cast members are brilliant as well. It also features a phenomenal soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith. This a very out-of-the-box Sam Peckinpah film, but it's a film that showcases how much depth he truly had as a director. He certainly had a flair for violence, but he also had a tremendous gift for drama that is sadly overlooked. The Ballad of Cable Hogue is destined to go down as one of the greatest films I've ever watched. It warmed my heart, it put a lump in my throat, I laughed hysterically, and I loved every damn minute of it. It is a glorious film.
½ September 17, 2017
Way overrated here. I've rarely seen a film start so well and slide into stupidity so quickly. Robards is great as is the film,until he meets Stella Steven's hooker. What was gently humorous and poetic then turns slapstick, mysogynistic, and adolescent. The interior sets are cheesy, cheap, and filmed like a skit on Laugh-In. The David Warner character using religion for sex, and passed off as humor, is dated and contemptable. I wonder why Peckinpah, even at his best, reduces himself to a horny 14 year old in his storytelling. Oh and of course things are always funny when you use speedy motion in scenes! God I wish this film maintained it's tone from the first 30 minutes. Gets back on track at the end though.
½ May 20, 2017
Peckinpah's lighter side and, perhaps, most interesting side.
½ April 19, 2017
Predictable, but lighthearted fun. And you get to see Stella Stevenson's nipples.
July 7, 2016
good '70's western minus the violence that usually comes with a sam peckinpah movie
½ May 8, 2016
Unlike the typical Peckinpah film, which is typically caught somewhere between ruthlessly violent or ruthlessly boring, The Ballad of Cable Hogue is a much more entertaining film that touches on the usual Peckinpah themes. The performances actually make you like the characters, and the tone of the film is decidedly lighthearted. It won't be branded onto your memory, but it's a breezy piece of unique fun that can't be found elsewhere in the genre.
½ April 30, 2016
Uneven but entertaining.

Nevada, early-1900s. Cable Hogue (played by Jason Robards) is double-crossed and robbed by his two partners. he is left for dead, wandering the desert without water. However, Hogue manages to survive and sets about restoring his fortunes. He finds water near a main road, buys a small plot of land around it and sells water to passing travelers. He also falls in love, with Hildy (Stella Stevens).

Directed by Sam Peckinpah, who gave us The Wild Bunch, Cross of Iron, Straw Dogs and The Getaway. Peckinpah movies are generally known for being violent dramas, with the violence being quite graphic. This movie, however, is more of a comedy than a drama, and thus a bit of a departure for Peckinpah.

It still has, at its core, a dramatic plot, one of recovery and revenge, but it is difficult to take seriously with some of the hilarious scenes that we see.

Very funny at times, with some wonderful lines and physical comedy. Peckinpah also makes use of the Benny Hill-like sped up footage for comedic effect. If anyone was under the illusion that this was purely a drama, that device would have shattered that illusion.

However, as mentioned, it retains a dramatic core and the ending is particularly sombre (and unsatisfying). Therein lies the problem with the movie. One moment its a comedy, sometimes to the point of being quite silly, next it is deadly serious. Very uneven.

Still, quite entertaining. Just best to not take it too seriously.
February 20, 2016
Jason Robards is hilarious and great to watch through this. But it's just an absurd B-movie for the most part in the Spaghetti Western genre.
½ May 22, 2015
As with any film directed by Sam Peckinpah, The Ballad of Cable Hogue sounded like it had revisionist roots waiting to be harvested.

The atmosphere in The Ballad of Cable Hogue is not like that of any other Sam Peckinpah. The man is known for his westerns which are extremely gritty in nature and violent, yet The Ballad of Cable Hogue is quite the opposite. The film is a character study, and much of the time it examines the simplicity and slow wit of its titular protagonist by using it to bring comedic value to the film. A lot of The Ballad of Cable Hogue is a gentle moving and sentimental story which is heavily atmospheric in ways other than melodrama, and because of that it is able to maintain a distinctive charm. These scenes are characterized by an overly lighthearted musical score and elements of visual humour, the furthest thing from what I would expect out of a Sam Peckinpah film. He proves that he has a real knack for it. It proves to make the feature rather fun at times due to the easygoing comic charm. This lightens the mood in the film which is great considering that as a slow moving character study set in a civilization developing to modern times without the large use of violence that made Sam Peckinpah's prior film The Wild Bunch so iconic. And though The Ballad of Cable Hogue does not come close to maintaining the same level of quality as The Wild Bunch, it does serve as a strong sign of Sam Peckinpah's sense of versatility within the same genre which pays him a lot of credit. Much of the film simply depicts its titular character wandering around as he attempts to come to terms with changing times, and this gently unfolding narrative allows viewers to embrace the film like a slowly setting sun over the western horizon. It may not always be the most interesting, but it makes an effort to remain consistently emotional and maintain characters who constantly draw viewers in. This mostly proves to compensate for the lack of the better western conventions such as shootouts and horse chases. Some viewers are likely to be bothered by the absence of these themes, but as a whole it is really admirable for Sam Peckinpah to push the limits on the western genre once again and prove to be one of the best men to ever keep the western genre progressing. The Ballad of Cable Hogue is not the quintessential Sam Peckinpah western film, but it proves to have enough innovation to distinguish itself from the crowd, balancing a light sense of humour with a touching sentimentality. The story itself is nothing too amazing and there are many moments where it doesn't feel like the narrative is actually progressing anywhere, but there is always a touch of spirit and real underlying meaning to justify everything well enough.
And although it may not maintain the slow motion and quick cuts of a Sam Peckinpah film, the cinematography in The Ballad of Cable Hogue is grand because rather than focusing so much on the large scale of things it maintains a tendency to zero in on the facial expressions of the characters as a constant reminder that the importance of the narrative lies with them and not the setting. But even then, the scenery in The Ballad of Cable Hogue is captured in the background very nicely and there are many shots which emphasize this, the production design and costumes all with a strong sense of colour. And when this combines with the musical score, it ensures that The Ballad of Cable Hogue appeals to both the eyes and the ears of audiences.
And with the script being so strong with its characters, the cast in The Ballad of Cable Hogue are handed a huge responsibility which they have no difficulty embracing.
Jason Robards is the perfect casting decision for the titular role of Cable Hogue. With a legacy for being table to handle Western films with natural charisma, Jason Robards is able to carry The Ballad of Cable Hogue on his shoulders very nicely. He starts out rough and lost in the Western world which gives him the perfect chance to capture the sentimentality of audiences, and slowly he develops more and so does the connection audiences share with him. He constantly tugs at the hearts of viewers through both the use of his natural charm and the way that he interacts with the surrounding cast members. Jason Robards works perfectly with Sam Peckinpah and grasps all the themes of the film within the one character, giving the film the protagonist that it truly needs.
Stella Stevens is also excellent. She plays the prostitute archetype of the story. And as well as capturing the sights of viewers through her sexual appeal, Stella Stevens manages to transcend the limited perspective of her by delivering a truly powerful performance. She clearly expresses the vulnerability of her character and her desire to be so much more, yet also the nihilism of knowing that she is powerless as a woman in the west. She manages to do all that while also not afraid to appear naked for scenes which emphasize her beauty or even her talents for physical comedy. Stella Stevens ensures that her relevance to the story in The Ballad of Cable Hogue is completely embraced, and her performance is just wonderful with the way that she interacts with Jason Robards. Their chemistry is one of the most touching things about the film because they have the bond of two people who truly care about each other.

So though The Ballad of Cable Hogue is a slow film which does not always feel like it maintains a progressing narrative, with powerful performances from Jason Robards and Stella Stevens as well as the passionate directorial work of Sam Peckinpah, it manages to succeed as a progressive and innovative western, for better and for worse.
½ June 16, 2014
A funny yet wistful ode to the west told when the frontiers were just beginning to close in.
May 1, 2014
After the success of The Wild Bunch (1969), Sam Peckinpah shocked audiences again, by doing a gentle and cheeky western which was in complete contrast to the ultra-violence of his previous film. Peckinpah always claimed this was his favourite film of all his films, and it showed he didn't have to resort to ultra-violence to make his films interesting. In this one, he resorts to comedy. Prospector Cable Hogue (Jason Robards) is abandoned by his partners Taggart (L. Q. Jones) and Bowen (Strother Martin) in the middle of the desert with no water. On the verge of death, he stumbles on a muddy pit, and digs to find a spring of water. As it's the only source of water for miles, Cable is able to make a business of his little water hole, his first paying customer is the Rev. Joshua Duncan Sloane (David Warner), who helps Cable out with making the place livable. Cable goes into town to get money for his water hole, while that's quite hard, he ends up with local prostitute Hildy (Stella Stevens), and the two become lovers. It's a very compelling film, and it manages to be very funny in places, with some moments channeling Benny Hill and the Carry On films, It's well made with good performances, but Peckinpah's reckless behaviour got him sacked from Warner Bros. Undeterred, Peckinpah headed over to England to make Straw Dogs (1971).
March 20, 2014
A funny yet forgettable comic western.
September 27, 2013
Friday, September 27, 2013

(1970) The Ballad Of Cable Hogue

This can be labelled as the second metaphorical movie directed by Sam Peckinpah which centers on the character Cable Hogue (Jason Robards) while travelling through the desert stumbles onto a small water hole. He then decides to put a claim on it since he figures that he's not going to be the only person to come through their and guards it with his life. What we get to expect are other double crossers and deceptive people.

As I've mentioned earlier, to control the water hole can represent power and money especially if it's the only water source within miles of a known desert which can also create friction. Peckinpah doesn't usually have strong female characters as for they're like reading an adult Western novel.

3 out of 4 stars
August 9, 2013
The best movie Sam ever made. Totally misunderstood by many but as time goes by it becomes more iconic. Most people don't know the town scenes were filmed at Apacheland Movie Ranch in Apache Junction , Arizona at the base of the Superstition Mountains. Robards was so drunk during the filming at Apacheland they had to send a patron into the town saloon and persuade Mr. Robards to come out and finish filming. After 3 shots of whiskey, he finally complied arm in arm with patron and finished filming.
May 19, 2013
I can't believe for one moment that this movie isn't more recognized as an amazing movie. It works so well with blending comedy, drama, and Sam Peckinpah's Westerns. I urge all fans of Peckinpah and Westerns as well to watch this movie.
½ May 3, 2013
Always love Peckinpah's work.
½ February 22, 2013
The Ballad of Cable Hogue is fairly forgotten in Peckinpah's filmography, and it's likely because it's as humorous as The Wild Bunch was bloody, or as Straw Dogs was disturbing. The title character (played brilliantly by Jason Robards) has to be one of the most indelible western protagonists, as he plays both the story's comic relief and sympathy card. Peckinpah would also use several different film techniques here, such as sped up shots, split screen, and even a modicum of animation! It's certainly a film uncharacteristic of the director, and undoubtedly one of his strongest efforts because of it. Ignored when originally released, the Ballad of Cable Hogue should now be considered one of the most appealing stories about the final days of the west.
January 9, 2013
A strangely pacifist kind of western by one of the masters of the genre like Pekimpah, who always brings an original element to the genre. The story of a man who decides to settle once he finds water in the middle of the desert, and make a living out of a well while quietly plotting his revenge. Jason Robards makes the character his own, and the film really alienates itself from the genreā(TM)s conventionalities just as much as its lead personage stands out and alienates himself from the rest of the western world.
December 1, 2012
I wasn't really prepared for the comedy of this film, but once the tone was established it is really quite enjoyable. Robards gives one of the best performance I've ever seen by him as an illiterate prospector who stumbles upon water after being left to die in the desert. It's the only water in a 50+ mile stretch of stagecoach trail and he makes a claim and a business for himself, all the while waiting to doll out revenge on those who would have killed him. The comedy arises primarily through the films relationship with religion, with David Warner providing the most laughs as a self appointed preacher more interested in getting laid than doing 'the lord's work." Comedy aside, there is also bitter-sweetness to the film as we watch Cable grow more savvy, but not in time to avoid being crushed by the encroachment of modern civilization.
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