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Western films, from silent to today

The Great Gundown (1977)

The Great Gundown (1977) poster Robert Padilla is Mario Ochoa, also known as The Savage or El salvaje, a man with a score to settle with the outlaw boss for whom he used to work.

So Padilla rounds up a gang of 10 hard cases and heads to the hideout of Joe Riles (Richard Rust) with a gatling gun and a wagon full of ammo, knowing he and his colleagues will be outnumbered five-to-one.

Why the grudge?

Years earlier, Ochoa helped with a train robbery planned by Riles. When the gang rode off with the loot, Riles had his own men ambushed. Only Ochoa escaped, with $25,000 in stolen money Riles figured was his.

Ochoa returns home, hoping to rekindle a relationship with the woman (Malila Saint Duval as Teresa) and child he’d left behind five years earlier. After all, he has money now.

Riles’ men are on his trail through, with orders to capture Ochoa and retrieve the money. They track him to Las Cruces, New Mexico. And by the time the gunfire ends, the ambush is the least of the reasons Ochoa has to want revenge against Riles.


Within a couple of minutes, you’ll realize this is a low-budget affair. And that Robert Padilla is no Clint Eastwood.

But with all the action and blood-letting, the complete lack of spark in this film is inexplicable. Director Paul Hunt also tries to interject humor into this otherwise somber film. Those attempts fall flat. So does an ill-fitting score.

As for the climatic attack on Riles’ stronghold, it’s a choreographed mess. And good luck remembering who’s on which side, especially since most of the film in spent in flashback mode, explaining why Padilla is so dead set on revenge.

About the only thing noteworthy about the film is that it marked the final outing for veteran character actor Stanley Adams. He plays Buck, the dynamite expert Ochoa recruits.

Best known for his role as a millionaire in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” he logged more than 200 acting credits before committing suicide at age 62 in 1977.

The train robbery in The Great Gundown (1977)Directed by:
Paul Hunt

Robert Padilla … Mario Ochoa, aka The Savage
Malila Saint Duval … Teresa
Richard Rust … Joe Riles
Steve Oliver … Arden
David Eastman .. Edgely
Stanley Adams … Buck
Rockne Tarkington … Sutton
Haydee Dubarry … Tia Maria
Cecilia Speake … Teresa’s mother
Brian Padilla … The boy (Carlos)
James Trijillo … Ramon Ochoa
Stephen Whittaker … Laredo
Paul Hunt … Jim the Gunsel
Virgil Frye … John Bayers

Runtime: 95 min.

El salvaje
Savage Red, Outlaw White

Memorable lines:

Buck, balking at joining the gang: “I’m older than anyone I know. That’s because I know when to quit.”

Buck, upon learning they’ll be taking on Joe Riles and his 50 men: “Well, guess I’m going to need an ending for my memoirs anyhow …”
Mario Ochoa: “The odds are only going to be five to one. It shold be a good fight.”

Deputy Luke, as Riles’ men ride into Las Cruses: “Want me to go out and handle it?”
Sheriff: “Yeah, you do that. You do that very thing. You go out there with your hands up, and you ask them, ‘Let’s have a nice little talk, huh?’ They’ll make you dance until they blow your feet off.”
Luke: “But Wyatt Earp once held off 300 men that way.”
Sheriff: “Luke, that was Mr. Earp. Today, it’s you and me. Us. That’s all.”

Teresa tp Mario Ochoa: “You came back and talked of a new life. Instead, you brought the old one with you — death and violence.”

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