Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: Purgatory
I’m not sure how we missed this made-for-TV Western from 1999, since we try to watch all of them we can, but somehow it slipped past us until now. It’s about a gang of outlaws led by Eric Roberts (an actor I’ve never really warmed up to) who are chased by a posse after robbing a bank. The pursuit takes them through a mysterious dust storm, and then they wind up in an isolated settlement called Refuge, where things start taking an odd turn.
The title of this movie practically hits the viewer over the head with its big plot twist, so the key to its success is how well it’s done otherwise. The photography is very good and the action scenes are well-staged, although there aren’t very many of them. Sam Shepard and Donnie Wahlberg, of all people, are just fine as the town’s lawmen. (I like Donnie Wahlberg just fine as a New York City cop on BLUE BLOODS, but I wouldn’t have thought of him as a deputy sheriff in a Western.) As I mentioned above, I’m not that fond of Eric Roberts, but he does a good job as a despicable villain.
PURGATORY was written by Gordon Dawson, a veteran TV scripter who was also the show-runner on WALKER, TEXAS RANGER, which meant that I worked with him when I was writing the novels based on that series. It was a good experience. He provided lots of help and advice. For a while there was talk about adapting one of my books into a two-parter for the TV show, but eventually that idea was nixed because it would have required too many expensive special effects. I still enjoyed talking to Dawson on the phone and trading emails with him. So I suppose that’s another reason I liked PURGATORY. It’s not a classic Western, but it is an entertaining film and worth watching.