THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE

year: 1970
cast: Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, David Warner, Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones
rating: ***

A little Western fable about an old drifter named Cable Hogue (Jason Robards) who is left for dead in the desert by two criminals (L.Q. Jones and Strother Martin) who steal his water. Cable wanders around mumbling to God to save him, and then finds water bubbling under the earth. David Warner plays a promiscuous travelling preacher who happens upon the waterhole. Cable leaves him there to guard his find, goes into town to put a claim on his new land where he meets wary bankers and a hooker with a heavenly body and a heart of gold, Stella Stevens. It's somewhat mediocre for a Sam Peckinpah film, but above-average for a mellow anti-Western... That is, if it weren't a Peckinpah piece carrying-in those kind of pre-set expectations, it would have possibly fared better to fans of the Western genre. Then again, since it's so different and non-violent, perhaps without the Peck stamp it would have vanished entirely.

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