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Western films, from silent to today

Desperado (1987)

Alex McArthur is Duell McCall, a drifter who delivers a small herd of cattle to a mining town controlled by a man named Ballard (David Warner).

It’s soon apparent he and Ballard aren’t going to get along. For starters, they both like a whore named Sally (Sydney Walsh).

Ballard also wants land owned by a painter named Malloy and his daughter Nora (Lise Cutter), McCall’s new friends. And Malloy doesn’t want to sell.

Then Ballard and McCall bet on who can retrieve a prize horse that breaks free., Ballard shoots the animal rather than lose the bet.

Now McCall, a man who’s always stayed out of trouble by drifting and minding his own business, has two reasons to remain around town.

He wants the $200 Ballard owes him from that bet. And he’s growing more and more fond of young Nora Malloy.


McArthur is believable and likeable as The Desperado in his first starring role in a TV movie, a movie that sets the stage for the four sequels that would follow.

That said, this is average fare with its slow-motion gunfights and gunshot victims who come across like graduates of the Spaghetti Western school of dying on film.

And there are plausibility issues since our hero reads poetry and plays chest between bedding young girls and gunning down bad guys.

Old Western stars Robert Vaughn and Pernell Roberts play lawman sympathetic to Duell’s plight while Stephen Davies and Yaphet Kotto serve as Ballard’s primary henchmen.

And if the blacksmith looks a wee bit familiar, that’s because he’s Dirk Blocker, son of Dan Blocker of Bonanza fame.

Directed by:
Virgil Vogel

Alex McArthur … Duell McCall
David Warner … Ballard
Yaphet Kotto … Bede
Donald Moffat … Malloy
Stephen Davies …Calvin
Lise Cutter … Nora Malloy
Sydney Walsh … Sally
Robert Vaughn … Sheriff Whaley
Gladys Knight … Mona Lisa
Pernell Roberts … Marshal Dancey
Dirk Blocker … Grady

Runtime: 93 min.

Memorable lines:

Sally, a whore, after greeting Duell McCall upon his arrival back in town: “Promise you’ll be right over.”
Duell: “After three months on the trail, I thought I’d stop at the library.”

Nora: “What do you do, Mr. McCall?”
Duell McCall: “I keep moving. I mind my own business.”

Malloy; “Don’t you go in there.”
Calvin: “Or elese what?”
Duell, showing up in the doorway with a pistol: “Or else your friends there will be taking your brains home in a bucket.”

Duell McCall: “You’re not the law.”
Bebe: “See how stupid you are? The company is the law in this town, and I’m the company.”

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