I’ve had a “love-hate”, hmmm, that’s a bit too strong… rather a “like-dislike” relationship with this movie ever since I can remember watching it. I go through phases where I like it and then dislike it. Having re-watched it again last night, I’m leaning towards the “like” this time round. And I can’t put my finger on what it is that keeps swaying me.
Catherine Crocker (Vera Miles) is running (riding) away from her husband, Willard (George Hamilton) when she inadvertently comes across Jay Grobart (Burt Reynolds) and his gang in process of carrying out a train robbery (the reasons for which will become revealed as the story unfolds). As they flee the scene, Jay tells one of his gang members to capture her horse, however, despite being a “prim and proper” lady, Catherine refuses to give up beautiful steed, so is taken along too. Jay, while being tough with his gang and Catherine, is also the one to ensure she isn’t abused by two of his men, Billy and Dawes (Bo Hopkins and Jack Warden respectively), at every lust-filled chance they get. With railroad detective Harvey Lapchance (Lee J Cobb) and his posse, joined by Willard, hot on their heels, they make for Indian territory. As they go, the gang starts coming undone, Jay‘s motivations become clear and Lapchance starts doubting Willard.
Based on the novel by Marilyn Durham, directed by Richard C. Sarafian and music by John Williams, I don’t think it a bad movie. In fact, I enjoy watching Catherine Crocker‘s change from side-saddle, umbrella-carrying lady to one who wears pants and takes a stand where needed. I also enjoy Jay‘s kind side. I can’t really pinpoint why I sometimes don’t enjoy it…but could be that every now and then Catherine comes across a bit “needy” or “clingy”. But then, riding off into the unknown from your life of luxury to be taken along with a gang of outlaws, I don’t know how I’d react. Could also be that Willard doesn’t seem to show enough conviction in tracking her down. On the other hand, I quite like that ‘romanticised’ notion of a lady riding with the men.
Jay is the “The Man who Loved”, but who is “Cat Dancing”? I guess you’ll need to watch this one to find out. It may not be easy to obtain this DVD though – the only way I got it was through the Warner Archive Collection’s Burn on Demand offering at quite a price. But then, I’m glad I got it as it forms part of my collection of movies that I used to watch on Super 8 reels. Thus, this probably becomes a better movie to me purely because of the nostalgia and memories associated with it.