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Western films, from silent to today

Desperado: The Outlaw Wars (1989)

Alex McArthur is Duell McCall, a man still in search of the witness who can clear his name.

But he also wants to reconnect with the love of his life (Lise Cutter as Nora) and has searched New Mexico and part of Arizona in an effort to locate her.

McCall finally does, in a small Western town with only one store that sells boots.

But he also finds a familiar face in a sheriff named Campbell (Richard Farnsworth), who wants him out of town and tells him Nora has changed her name and has no interest in reconnecting with him.’

Both Nora and Campbell change their minds.

Nora does in part because she’s raising a baby boy, the son McCall didn’t know existed. Campbell does because the John Sikes gang has just robbed a stage and killed his wife.

Campbell offers McCall an interesting proposition: Infilltrate the Sikes gang. Bring him in alive so Campbell can watch him hang. In return, McCall will get amnesty and a chance for a fresh start with Nora and his son.

Infilltrating the gang proves the easy part. Bringing in the half-mad Sikes, selling out a new friend (Whip Hubley as Charlie Cates) and making sure his old love stays out of harm’s way — well, that might be more difficult.


The fourth of the five Alex McArthur/Deperado TV films borrows heavily from Western classics of the past, including “The Gunfighter” (Nora’s reluctance to see McCall) and “The War Wagon” (Sikes wants to rob an armored stage loaded with gold).

But by this point, Swackhammer, McArthur and company had settled into a groove with these films so that this one is entertaining, even if the plot isn’t all that original.

In fact, the amnesty offer seems downright implausible, since the press seems to be blaming McCall for every big killing and robbery that occurs, even in place he’s never been.

The film marked Cutter’s third appearance as Nora. Debra Feuer plays Maggie, whore to Sikes outlaw gang; Brad Dourif is Camillus Fly, a writer anxious to find someone he can turn into a dime novel hero; and Buck Taylor (once of Gunsmoke) has a small role as Sikes’ more sane half-brother.

Directed by:
E.W. Swackhammer

Alex McArthur … Duell McCall
Richard Farnsworth … Sheriff Campbell
James Remar … John Sikes
Brad Dourif … Camillus Fly
Tom Bower … Billy Dobbs
Whip Hubley … Charlie Cates
Brion James … Roy Grimes
Debra Feuer … Maggie
Buck Taylor … Wes Porter
Deon Richmond … Thomas Jefferson III
Lise Cutter … Nora
Geoffrey Lewis … Oliver Ostrow

Runtime: 95 min.

Memorable lines:

Sheriff Campbell to barkeep: “Don’t you have some glasses to wash?”
Barkeep: “No.’
Campbell: “Then find some.”

Duell McCall, order out of town by the sheriff: “Mind if I finish my dinner.”
Sheriff Campbell: “Not if you eat fast.”

Wes Porter, of John Sikes: “He’s crazy. Course, out here, that might make him the sanest man of all.”

Charlie Cates: “So why are you here?”
Maggie: “My daddy was always shouting about sin and damnation. Made me curious to see what it was all about.”

Sheriff Campbell: “Alright, men, put the gold on the wagon. Then round up the rest of these cyotes. They’re al bleeding, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble.”

John Sikes; “I want you to feel the bullet, cause that’s gonna be me inside you. Take a deep breath, McCall, cause here I come.”

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