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Western films, from silent to today

Desperado: Badlands Justice (1989)

Alex McArthur is Duel McCall, a wanted man once again diverted from his primary mission — finding the man who can clear his name.

This time the diversion is a mine cave-in. He rescues a man named Carl with a potentially dangerous dose of dynamite, then befriends him, his wife and his young daughter Jenny.

Next stop: The town of Magnolia, where all isn’t well.

A saloon owner named Richard Marriott (John Rhys-Davies) is gobbling up as much of the town and surrounding land as he can.

An adversary named Kirby Clarke (James Sikking) fears Marriott and his lawless element — he makes most of his money off whorse, gambling and booze — will scare away the railroad that might otherwise route tracks through Magnolia.

When McCall arrives in town, he’s mistaken for Henry Boothe, a hired killer the merchants of Magnolia have agreed to hire to do away with Marriott. McCall turns down the sheriff’s badge he’s offered as part of the job.

But he changes his mind when he returns to the Parsons’ home and finds Jenny missing and her father and mother dead.


Fans of the five-film Desperado series will find this installment satisfying as a stand-alone product. As the last Desperado film, it’s less satisfying because it leaves lots of the over-arching issues in the series unresolved.

It also features a rather convoluted plot in a who’s-got-Jenny, who’s-the-real-villain sort of way. In addition to Marriott and Clarke, we have Gregory Sierra as the leader of a band of Mexican revolutionaires buying guys from Marriott.

Patricia Charbonneau plays Emily Harris, the prettier-than-should-be owner of the mine next to the Parson spread. She winds up trusting McCall to help solve the mystery of who killed Jenny’s parents.

One big plus: John Rhys-Davies turns in a splendid job as Richard Marriott, a man who insists all his business dealings are fair, even though they’re clearly not.

E.W. Swackhammer, who had directed multiple episodes of I Dream of Jeanie, Gidget, The Flying Nun, Bewitched and The Partridge Family, helmed the last four Desperado films. And someone sure had a fascination with falling fake rocks.

Directed by:
E.W. Swackhammer

Alex McArthur … Duell McCall
John Rhys-Davies … Richard Marriott
James Sikking … Kirby Clarke
Patricia Charbonneau … Emily Harris
Deborah Dawn Slaboda … Jenny Parsons
Gregory Sierra … Jesus Gutierrez
Robert O’Reilly … Pike
Edward Whiley … Henry Boothe
Joel Colodner … Etheridge
Geoffrey Rivas … Hector
Steve Eastin … Ledon
Ryan Healey … Lyle

Runtime: 100 min.

Memorable lines:

Card player #1, watching an altercation in the saloon: “Five dollars says someone gets cut.”
Card player #2: “Ten bucks says somebody gets killed.”

Richard Marriott: “If finding Jenny Parsons is in your interest Mr. Booth, go to it. You have my blessing.”
Duell McCall, posing as Booth: “Your blessing?”
Marriott: “Yes, sir. Without that, you would be a dead man.”
McCall: “I don’t like being threatened.”

Pike, to a merchant being displaced: “We’re here to help you relocate. To another town. Or to hell.”

Mexican revolutionary to one of Marriott’s men: “If you pull a gun on my friend again, I’ll cut off your ose and make you eat it.”

Jesus Gutierrez: “You have lost control of the situation. The rifles are no longer in your possession.”
Richard Marriott: “Do I take that to mean that you intend to take control of the situation?”
Gutierrez shrugs.
Marriott: “You come from a people with a glorious history of unfinished revolutions, rampant starvation and pathetic attempts at self-government. And you intend to take control? … Get out of my way so I can get you your rifles back.”

Jesus Gutierrez, after shooting Marriott: “Now tell me who has control of the situation.”

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