Seeking Revenge with William Holden

These Blogathons are interesting…I was oblivious to William Holden being known as the “The Golden Boy” until I came across The Golden Boy Blogathon (hosted by The Wonderful World of Cinema). I’m no connoisseur of his works and only know him from 4 works one being The Revengers, the othersĀ Wild Rovers, The Bridge on the River Kwai and The Wild Bunch. The former is the one I remember most of (the others just snippets) despite the fact that it didn’t seem to have done well at the box-office. But then, for me, reviews and box-office stats don’t matter, my enjoyment does and here I’d say is a movie that isn’t half bad. Possibly, remembering William Holden from this 1972 movie is why I didn’t really see him as the Golden Boy as he was already 54, an older (note, not old) version of the handsome man I see in the various Blogathon banners.

The only scene that has always come to mind when thinking of this western was the one with his son’s lifeless body dangling from the loft near the beginning. Clearly time to dust those memory cobwebs before I continued writing and tada…last night was the night! Lucky for me, a few years back I managed to buy the DVD and I had a good evening remembering various scenes. Amazing how the moment they start they become so clear.

The tagline “He bought six men out of hell and they brought it with them” pretty much sums it up, well, to the extent that “hell” was portrayed in those days (these days, I think the equivalent would be more brutal, bloodier and violent). Beginning with wonderful stereotypical western music, all upbeat and fun, John Benedict (William Holden) rides home with a herd of horses to be greeted by his family. Naturally, something needs to happen. Especially with the title The Revengers. And it does. All too soon – naturally. I won’t spoil the plot for those who haven’t seen this film but pretty much everything that John Benedict held dear is brutally ripped away from him sending him on a mission to track down the man responsible. From a prison called “The Hole” (hell) he hires 6 convicts to help him do the job. The “prisoner selection” scene is so much fun! They make for a wonderful combination of characters. Especially notable is Ernest Borgnine as William/Bill Hoop. Ah, he balances William Holden’sĀ  ever more serious revenge-driven character perfectly. In fact, all actors make for a wonderful ensemble, each one complementing the other. I’m sure they must have had a good laugh on set. Anyway, the story is about John Benedict’s journey of revenge and therefore one of personal change.

What I really appreciate in this film is William Holden‘s ability to portray a loving father who supports his family. His acting managed to get me to feel with and for him and convinced me that he really was a father. Similarly, as he hardens up and is purely set on revenge, he still manages to bring across to the viewer his emotions and yet again I felt for him, understanding his reactions and decisions even when not necessarily the right ones from an outsider perspective. Especially the scene between John Benedict and Chamaco (Jorge Luke) discussing paternity possibilities brings across such emotion that only great actors can achieve.

All-in-all, a fun western to watch with some great acting.

Directed by Daniel Mann, it also stars Woody Strode, Roger Hanin, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Jorge Martinez de Hoyos and a small role from Susan Hayward.

Random info: If anyone has seen the 2002 film Sorority Boys, you won’t believe that Dave’s dad is the same actor, James Daughton, who plays Morgan, John Benedicts’ son in The Revengers.