The Spikes Gang (1974)
For this western from producer Walter Mirisch we get three up and coming young actors, Gary Grimes, Ron Howard and Charlie Martin Smith. The film casts them as three farm boys who long for the excitement they believe awaits them in the saddle and down the trail.
Enter Harry Grimes. Grizzled Lee Marvin turns up as a wounded outlaw that the boys quietly nurse back to health and decide the exciting life he speaks of is the one for them. So begins a crime spree under the tutelage of Marvin. The boys quickly learn that Lee isn’t exactly a man of too many principles and is somewhat of a cutthroat character. Our three boys grow up in a hurry and realize that the world is a little bigger off the farm and not quite what they dreamed of.
Legendary Lee Marvin fits this role perfectly. Just as he so often displayed both in film and in life his character is his own man who plays by his own rules and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. As time would prove, Ron Howard would become the star of the 3 young actors but as we would soon see, it is behind the camera that he has solidified his reputation in Hollywood despite being a child actor of note from Mayberry through the Happy Days series. C.M. Smith went on to a long career including The Untouchables and Never Cry Wolf among other titles. It’s Grimes that I really have no idea what happened to as he was the hot young actor at this time. He had done several westerns including Cahill with the Duke and Summer of ’42.
Behind the camera is long time director Richard Fleischer who by this time was a seasoned veteran of many a title including 20000 Leagues Under the Sea and Soylent Green. Along with Lee Marvin, he worked with most of the tougher film stars during his run including Kirk Douglas, Charles Bronson, Robert Mitchum and George C. Scott to name a few. Sadly in his autobiography Just Tell Me When To Cry he doesn’t discuss this title. ??? Too bad as I am always interested in a good Lee Marvin tale.
Overall this one is a decent time filler and a must for Marvin enthusiasts like me.