Kid Blue (1973)

“I ain’t got no gun. I ain’t got no wife. All I got is a bed, and board, and a job, and I’m trying to be as good a citizen I can.”

Kid Blue Poster

Synopsis:
An inept train robber (Dennis Hopper) goes straight and takes a series of menial jobs in the town of Dime Box. Meanwhile, he befriends a genial factory worker (Warren Oates) and his seductive wife (Lee Purcell), as well as an eccentric preacher (Peter Boyle).

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Review:
This revisionist western tells the simple yet timeless tale of an ex-con going straight who faces a daunting lifetime of menial, low-paying work. Dennis Hopper is appropriately rangy and wide-eyed in the title role, but ultimately too long in the tooth (he was 37 at the time) to be playing a “young ‘un” needing to “respect his elders”. More impressive are the cast of supporting actors, especially the always-reliable Warren Oates and Peter Boyle as the Kid’s new friends. Nothing special, but worth a look if you catch it on late-night T.V.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Warren Oates as the Kid’s new best friend
  • Peter Boyle as Preacher Bob
  • Lee Purcell as Molly

Must See?
No. This one is only must-see for western fans. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.

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One Response to “Kid Blue (1973)”

  1. Not a must and rather in agreement with the assessment. Certainly not a dull movie – and will be most appreciated by those who like their westerns on the quirky side – but ultimately not all that memorable.

    Though clearly too old for the part, Hopper manages enough of the youthful spirit to carry it off – and one can’t help but root for him when he’s up against all manner of backward natures.

    Particularly disappointing here is seeing the fine actor Ben Johnson playing such a tediously one-note role: the sheriff who dislikes Hopper for no good reason and spends the whole film…well, disliking Hopper for no good reason.

    Boyle brings an odd breath of fresh air as the preacher; Oates’ role is somewhat unusual for a western – with all his talk about how friendships between men are easier and perhaps more valuable than a relationship between a man and a woman; Purcell’s character seems very liberated for the time (and Purcell herself is very reminiscent of a young Jane Fonda).

    What goes unmentioned in the assessment is the real spunk of the pic: when Janice Rule enters about 30 min. near the end. Here’s someone who adds real color and complexity – and unfortunately her part is underwritten. That doesn’t stop Rule, though, as she finds every opportunity for subtext. A pity Rule wasn’t able to escape television more often than she did. Her film work is intriguing – and four years after ‘Kid Blue’ she had a plum role in Altman’s ‘3 Women’.

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