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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Louis L'Amour's The Sacketts DVD

Fantastic cast, poorly written 1979 movie with two main plot lines that barely interact

If I told you I had a western based on Louis L'Amour books starring Glenn Ford, Ben Johnson, Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott with Slim Pickens and Jack Elam as supporting actors you'd think you'd found yourself a piece of cinematic gold. Well, you'd be dead wrong in the case of Louis L'Amour's The Sacketts.

Sam Elliott is the eldest Sackett brother who is living in Purgatorie, a piece of God-forsaken mountainous wasteland in what must be northern New Mexico. Tom Selleck and Jeff Osterhage are two younger brothers who become cowhands and later sheriff and deputy of Santa Fe. The two plot lines interact only twice - once to hand the Ben Johnson character off from Tom Selleck to Sam Elliott (Johnson is great, as always, playing second fiddle and making every scene he's in better) and in the climactic fight scene that ends the movie.

The Sam Elliott plotline is the best (being the most coherent), although it often has long stretches of Sam Elliott crossing rivers, climbing rock faces or cooking. To his credit, Elliott manages to make these interesting.

The Tom Selleck plot line is herky-jerky at best even though it has the lion's share of the screen time. It feels like the whole plot was hacked apart to fit into a certain time frame. The special featurette of the DVD mentions that the script was originally 6 hours, which may explain the problem. I don't know if the 6 hour production was ever made or if it was just very poorly edited afterwards, but the Selleck thread suffers badly. Too bad, because the Glenn Ford character is perhaps the most interesting in the movie, but his motivations are not explained well at all.

The climax fight scene is well done but rendered almost laughable at the end by having the Sacketts and the Ben Johnson character strut down the main street side after the fight in the type of scene that was already cliche when John Wayne was a newbie.

I only recommend this one for diehard fans.

I rated this movie only 2 stars out of 5.

This movie can be found on Amazon.com here: Louis L'Amour's The Sacketts.

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