THE DESPERATE TRAIL is a made-for-cable Western starring Sam Elliott. Now, I would have said that I'd seen all of Sam Elliott's Westerns, but nope, this one was new to me. Although Elliott is top-billed, he actually plays a supporting role as a ruthless, vengeful marshal who's pursuing a female fugitive (Linda Fiorentino) convicted of killing her husband. While she's on the run, she throws in with a charming con man and outlaw played by Craig Sheffer, and they team up hoping to rob a big money shipment from a bank.
This movie takes some odd turns. Sam Elliott is the villain, and despite a good performance from him, I'm not sure that works for me. I'm just too used to seeing him as the hero. The music is very low-key and doesn't sound like Western movie music at all, which also bothers me, and there's something off about the photography that doesn't look right.
That said, there are some interesting characters, a few moments of unexpected and almost bizarre humor, and a couple of decent gunfights. I got caught up in the story despite the quibbles I mentioned above. THE DESPERATE TRAIL is a flawed movie, but I think it's worth watching, especially if you're a Sam Elliott completist like me.
Art Gallery: NORMAN SAUNDERS
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