William Holden and Ryan O’Neal, two cowboys who decide to rob a bank, and Karl Malden, their employer, star in a technically superior film.
Film tells a sentimental story about an aging cowpoke and a younger buddy whose dreams of crashing out of their rut lead to violence and death.
Emphasis is on Holden and O’Neal, and there are a few touching moments as the older man imparts some wisdom to the younger. The mood is broken regularly with pratfall humor, also some dehumanizing slow-motion ballets of death. O’Neal’s character is not always well defined, since the boyish naivete also exhibits some jarring evidence of cruelty, thereby limiting empathy for his ultimate downfall.
Large supporting cast is lost in throwaway parts. Even Malden has little to do except plot-motivate the dispatch of sons Tom Skerritt and Joe Don Baker to join the posse. Skerritt overacts, and Baker’s abilities are smothered in a second banana line-throwing part.