An Eye For An Eye (1966)
While watching this western that was released nearing the end of the western craze you can’t help but wonder when John Wayne might make an appearance. And why not. When you see Patrick Wayne, Slim Pickens, Strother Martin and Duke’s long time pal Paul Fix in the cast it almost seems as if the gang has been brought over from the set of The Sons of Katie Elder or another Duke western of the era.
As it stands, our tale begins with Slim Pickens and another duo raping and murdering a woman and her young children. Lighting the ranch afire they storm off as the woman’s hubby rides in attempting to rescue his family to no avail. Solid leading man Robert Lansing stars here as a man who becomes hell bent on revenge. Showing up shortly thereafter is one of cinema’s great weasels, Strother Martin looking to sell Lansing information on who is behind the savage murders. Strother gets a gun pointed at his nose, no money and divulges that Slim is the nasty culprit.
While riding the trail of revenge, Lansing comes across a young bounty hunter as played by Patrick Wayne. They are both after Pickens. It seems as if Lansing has a past that will unveil itself as the film moves along. He himself was once a bounty hunter before settling down to farm and family. The duo form an uneasy alliance and come upon a small town where they find refuge with Paul Fix and his daughter Gloria Talbot who takes an instant liking to Lansing. Running around the sets is a young Clint Howard as a kid who begins idolizing Lansing. Even Rance Howard makes a quick appearance. Clint is of course Ron Howards brother and Rance their father.
During an initial encounter between our hunters and Slim, plenty of shots are fired leaving Slim’s gang dead and both bounty hunters with wounds that will seriously hinder their ability to carry on the hunt for Slim let alone lead a normal life. Two-bit redneck peckerwood (love that saying from The Wild Bunch) Strother discovers the weakness of each hunter and playing the odds goes to sell the information to Slim all but guaranteeing Slim the victory should he choose to face off against the men in the streets. The actual finale is very gimmicky and more akin to the Italian westerns that quickly seemed to overtake the viewing audience.
An Eye For An Eye is a well used title. It’s also been a Chuck Norris flick and finally a Sally Field vigilante thriller. This western version was penned by Bing Russell, a long time character player of the genre in both movies and TV. Bing’s son would far surpass him in fame. His son is the well known Kurt Russell.
Along with a well known cast, serving as the director of photography is Lucien Ballard. Ballard for me will always be joined at the hip with Peckinpah for their work together though he served on many successful films throughout his lengthy career. This western is one of the few directing credits for Michael D. Moore who it seems was quite successful as a second unit director. He worked in that capacity from the 1940’s right through till the 90’s including stops on the original Indiana Jones trilogy. Thankfully he had retired before the fourth film. And yes, that is a cheap shot.
The real highlights of this western that has a very TV feel to it are Lansing as the hunter and the teaming of Slim and Strother. They both have such distinct voices that seemed to be made for the western and the villains that populate them. If not the villain then the hero’s sidekick. In reality Slim’s role would have been better served with Strother’s other frequent co-star, L.Q. Jones. Jones seems a tad meaner while Slim does better in the gentler roles.
Passable time filler from the final days of the “B” western coming out of Hollywood and Gloria Talbot’s final film. She backed off of movies to raise a family leaving some fun titles for movie buffs. Especially in the sci-fi genre. Titles like I Married a Monster From Outer Space.