Rancho Deluxe (1976)

“A Sharps buffalo rifle… This is gettin’ downright romantic!”

Rancho Deluxe Poster

An arrogant ranch owner (Clifton James) enlists the help of his two cowhands (Harry Dean Stanton and Richard Bright) and an aging detective (Slim Pickens) in capturing a pair of anarchic young rustlers (Jeff Bridges and Sam Waterston).


Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary accurately labels this “modern-day Western” by director Frank Perry “curiously uninvolving”, noting that the characters “aren’t very likable”, and that the “skillfully” shot individual scenes never coalesce into a meaningful whole. Indeed, the sloppy script by Thomas McGuane (I disagree with Peary that it’s “well-written”) fails to generate much authentic interest in either the characters or their situations, and is often incomprehensible. Although Bridges and Waterston are clearly meant to embody counter-culture anarchists rebelling against The Establishment (as represented by the buffoonish James and his sexy wife, Elizabeth Ashley), they never generate our sympathy, given that they’re essentially trigger-happy scofflaws who disrespectfully kill animals for kicks. A brief attempt is made to provide us with some background “motivation” on why they’ve chosen their current lifestyle — Bridges is fleeing an unhappy marriage and a “stifling” life of privilege, while Waterston is posited as a “lost” Indian divorced from his tribal values — but both threads are dropped without a trace. Meanwhile, the central drama of the story — whether James will discover the identities of Bridges and Waterston — carries no genuine suspense or interest, given that he’s just as unappealing as his nemeses. Not even the auspicious arrival of Slim Pickens in the final third of the film redeems this disappointing Revisionist Western.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Harry Dean Stanton as Curt, one of James’s two cowhands
    Rancho Deluxe Stanton
  • Beautiful outdoor locations in Montana

Must See?
No; feel free to skip this one.


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