Rancho Deluxe (1975)
There’s a definite charm to this modern day western tale of cattle rustling and the reason is very simple. It has a wonderful cast of some very well known character actors involved in the on screen shenanigans surrounding leading man Jeff Bridges.
Bridges stars alongside Sam Waterston as a couple of beatnik cowboys. Neither are interested in holding down a job or bending to any sort of a conventional lifestyle. They’d rather drop a cow with a long range rifle and trade the meat off to their landlady for room and board as opposed to going out and earning cash to pay her with.
Could this be an early variation of “The Dude?”
The local cattle baron (Clifton James) isn’t happy with modern day rustlers poaching his grazing herds and expects his two lead hands to come up with some leads. Enter Harry Dean Stanton and Richard Bright as Curt and Burt. “Kurt. Your a slow boat to China.” points out Elizabeth Ashley playing Clifton’s bored wife concerning Harry’s slow demeanor.
While Bridges and Waterston chase some of the local cow girls around the country side, James is showing off his prized bull at a local stockman’s show. His bull wins the coveted blue ribbon prompting our local rustlers to put a cow-napping plan in motion. It’s all played for laughs with James finally being reunited with his favorite animal. This in turn leads him to hire a stock detective.
Low and behold it’s another fine character player of note. Slim Pickens.
Slim arrives looking like he can barely move at a snail’s pace needing a cane and his niece to hold his hand. His niece is played by Charlene Dallas whose girl next door innocence is quickly going to capture the heart of Stanton’s saddle tramp who may be about to go into business with Bridges to land a big score with the latest heist.
There is going to be a few surprises for the cast members involved in this lazy paced comedy with some dramatic scenes injected on the home front for both Waterston’s Indian character and Bridges upon returning to home to visit his straight laced parents who want him to join the human race and settle down with an old flame. It’s not in his make up.
Pickens’ is perfectly cast as a rather dopey detective with a slant towards laziness whose niece Miss Dallas has quite the scene with Stanton. While I can’t swear to it, this might be the first and only sex scene of Stanton’s career. He comes to realize that a gentle kiss with Dallas is going to lead to a heavy sexual encounter as the good girl comes out of her shell. It’s all rather amusing as she becomes the aggressor to his modern day cowboy.
In the end this is a rather harmless adventure featuring a couple of misfit cowboys from director Frank Perry. Aside from Clifton James hot under the collar cattle baron, the majority of the characters are underplaying their roles alongside Bridges who at times comes on a bit strong as the angry young man in a cowboy hat. Off setting him quite nicely is Waterston in a role that rarely elicits any excitement that might raise his heart rate.
Any film that features Slim Pickens or Harry Dean Stanton is a film I’ll take a look at. Here we get them both and plenty of screen time to boot. Buried in here is a cameo by another actor who I frequently discuss here at Mike’s Take. He and Harry made quite a few films together throughout the sixties and seventies. Look closely at the house band featuring Jimmy Buffet. Does that guy in the sunglasses hiding the lower half of his face because he’s playing a harmonica look familiar?
Click right here if “A” You don’t have a copy of the film or “B” you do and can’t figure out just who that cool cat is.