HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Lu Over the Wall
She's Funny That Way
Vox Lux
Aftermath, The
Five Fingers for Marseilles
Jupiter's Moon
Favourite, The
Mysteries of the Gods
Coming Home
De Sade
Patti Cake$
Hellbound
Final Destination 2
Romance
Bros: After the Screaming Stops
Cockleshell Heroes, The
Mule, The
Sunday in the Country
Nutcracker Fantasy
Spellcaster
Hipsters
Executive Action
Captain Marvel
Zombie Girl
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Rhinoceros
Monkey King 3, The
Adventurers, The
Stripped to Kill
Daughter of Dr. Jekyll
Aladdin's Magic Lamp
Christopher Robin
Hole in the Ground, The
Daniel
Blue Christmas
Death Trip
She's Missing
Return of the Soldier
Shaft
Summer Lovers
   
 
Newest Articles
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
Locomotion Pictures: The Best of British Transport Films on Blu-ray
Roman Scandals: Extreme Visions from Ancient Rome
Spider-Wrong and Spider-Right: The Dragon's Challenge and Into the Spider-Verse
Monster Dog: Cujo on Blu-ray
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
   
 
  Billy Two Hats Scottish Outlaw in Israeli WesternBuy this film here.
Year: 1974
Director: Ted Kotcheff
Stars: Gregory Peck, Desi Arnaz Jr, Jack Warden, David Huddleston, Sian Barbara Allen, John Pearce, Dawn Little Sky, Vince St. Cyr, Henry Medicine Hat, Zeev Berlinsky, Antony Scott
Genre: Western
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Aging outlaw Arch Deans (Gregory Peck) is on the run after inadvertently killing a deputy during his latest bank robbery. When Sheriff Henry Gifford (Jack Warden) captures his partner, Billy Two Hats (Desi Arnaz Jr), Arch surprises the cynical lawman by risking his neck to save the young half-breed Indian. However, as they escape Arch is wounded by a long-rifle fired by Gifford’s friend, frontier store owner Copeland (David Huddleston). The pair find refuge at homestead belonging to a greedy farmer named Spencer (John Pearce), who ill-treats his stutter-afflicted young wife Sarah (Sian Barbara Allen). Arch pays Spencer to drive him to the nearest doctor while Billy agrees to watch over his homestead, but the pair are ambushed by Indians. While Billy and Sarah begin falling in love, the ever-dogged Sheriff Gifford is hot on their trail.

Prior to his late career revival with The Omen (1976), Gregory Peck tried his hand at an array of offbeat roles, including I Walk the Line (1970), Shootout (1971) and this unusual western, none of which seemed to fit. Here he adopts a broad Scottish brogue for his eccentric outlaw and though not quite nailing the accent provides a lively, engaging turn that enlivens this otherwise pedestrian wild west yarn. Filmed in Israel, Billy Two Hats was dubbed “Shalom on the Range” by a number of comedians at a time when any non-Hollywood western, including Italian ones, were seen as something of a hoot. In fact, director Ted Kotcheff makes fine use of those sun-scorched, arid landscapes to underline the sense of his characters being adrift in a vast inhospitable region. He also pulls off a pair of memorable action set-pieces, one involving our outlaws fleeing a near-invisible bullet fired from Copeland’s frighteningly accurate rifle, another that finds Arch bunkered under a wagon, fending off the Indian attack.

Shot in the earthy brown tones typical of a Seventies western, the script has a streak of wistful melancholy typical of a post-Sam Peckinpah, post Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) western, though not quite as pointed in its assessment of that familiar refrain: “them days are over.” It was scripted by Alan Sharp, a Scottish writer then fresh off a pair of under-rated and similarly character driven westerns: The Hired Hand (1971) and Ulzana’s Raid (1972), and whose recent work includes Rob Roy (1995) and Dean Spanley (2008). The plot hinges to a degree on Gifford’s inability to reason why Arch would risk his life to save a “no-good half-breed” like Billy, but while the warm father-son relationship is amiably played, its attempts to dissect racism are muddled at best. There is a vague hint that Arch and Gifford embody the fast-vanishing west while Billy and Sarah represent the future, yet the film sets aside any ambitious themes and lapses into a stalk-and-chase thriller somewhat akin to Kotcheff’s First Blood (1982), albeit offset by moments of character-based comedy and an ill-characterised interracial romance.

Desi Arnaz Jr, son of sitcom stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, strains hard to seem enigmatic and while he isn’t terrible, neither he nor Sharp’s script succeed in making Billy compelling enough to justify his name-as-the-title status. Aside from this movie, Arnaz Jr’s notable cult film roles include Marco (1973), a musical based on the life of Marco Polo co-produced by children’s film specialists Rankin-Bass and Japanese special effects outfit Tsuburaya Studios, and House of Long Shadows (1983) the last horror movie directed by Pete Walker. He also appeared in a small role as his father in the musical biopic Mambo Kings (1992).

It’s up to Gregory Peck to inject some vitality into proceedings. He is very watchable as an oddly polite outlaw who can’t abide seeing women roughed up and always offers to pay for something rather than steal it.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3288 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: