This is another Movie I’d Never Heard Of, but it’s a Western and I try to watch most of the Westerns I come across. (Livia’s the one who actually found this at Redbox.) It’s set in southern Texas and northern Mexico during the early Twentieth Century. The protagonist is Juliette Flowers (Lizzy Kaplan), a female gunslinger and outlaw who’s trying to recover the body of her lover, fellow outlaw Ransom Pride, who was killed during a gun-running deal gone bad. Ransom’s body is being held by the vengeance-seeking Maria de Morena (Cote de Pablo), who has an agenda of her own. Complicating things are Ransom’s father, a crazed preacher (played by Dwight Yoakum, who chews the scenery shamelessly but effectively), and some bounty hunters (Kris Kristofferson, Jason Priestly, and the great character actor W. Earl Brown, who’s top-notch as usual in a small role). Accompanying Juliette into Mexico is Ransom’s brother Champ (Jon Foster), who provides the expected romantic interest for her.
There’s a pretty good plot here, and the acting, while a little over-the-top in places, is decent. Lizzy Kaplan looks great as Juliette and turns in a tough, hardboiled performance that brings to mind Raquel Welch as Hannie Caulder in the film of the same name. The script was co-written by singer/songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard, who was one of the leaders of the Texas-based outlaw country movement in the Seventies. It has some decent lines and good action scenes in it.
However, the movie really gets bogged down by quick cuts, frequent flashbacks, and bizarre, grotesque images. I wanted to say, “Cut out all this artsy crap and just tell the damn story!” For me, anyway, that would have improved the movie considerably.
As it is, THE LAST RITES OF RANSOM PRIDE is worth watching, I think, especially if you’re a Western fan. But if you’re a traditionalist like me, prepare to be irritated at times and entertained at others.
A Movie Review by Dan Stumpf: SING AND LIKE IT (1934).
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