Rancho Deluxe (1976)
“A Sharps buffalo rifle… This is gettin’ downright romantic!”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
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:
One thought on “Rancho Deluxe (1976)”
First viewing. Not must-see, though my reaction was not as harsh as the assessment above. I don’t think the film is “often incomprehensible” – but neither is it satisfyingly cohesive enough. Not that that ultimately matters, since the plot is thin anyway. FFs who enjoy shaggy-dog slice-of-life stories would most likely find enough here of interest.
It’s mostly too bad it’s not better than it is, because there’s potential here for a better film. But that’s nothing new for a film by Frank Perry – a director who had a longer career than one would think possible for someone with such a non-conformist (and distancing) sensibility. To my knowledge, he never had anything resembling a commercial hit – but somehow he found the means to keep going in his uniquely eccentric way.
In the case of this particular film, I think what keeps things afloat is McGuane’s equally eccentric script. Yes, it leans toward “sloppy” but, against my own expectation, I was often held by the natural, believable flow of its rhythms and observations and I found sections of it quite funny.