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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Posse (1975)

Posse (1975)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: D     Film: B-



You got to give Kirk Douglas credit.  He eventually passed on One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and took on directing chores for Posse in 1975.  The fact that he always pursued quality material that was different is one of the reasons he remained one of Hollywood’s all-time great stars.  Though not the classic the Milos Forman film turned out to be, Posse still has an interesting revisionist Western angle.


Those who know the Western genre know that its myth are built on the tragedy that when the choice came to print the facts of the exaggeration (to paraphrase), whatever sold more papers and got more press is what went out.  Before this was known as yellow journalism, it was obviously still bad practice and unethical.


Douglas plays a Sheriff running for political office who is going after a murderous, notorious killer (Bruce Dern), but the twist is that the Sheriff is exploiting the situation and using the killer to further his own ends.  Capitalizing on tragedy is something politicians are all too willing to pull, as we have seen recently.  This film was admitting this in a way that was still surprising at the time.  This is not one of those corny stories that feeds us moral relativity garbage about the killer and law being one and the same.  As a matter of fact, it’s a comedy that is especially aimed at the audience who loves Westerns, so much so that the film marginalizes itself somewhat to accommodate and address that audience, which was larger at the time.


In that way, the film works very well, but not being a Western fan, the joke only went so far.  The William Roberts/Christopher screenplay definitely shows a love of the Western.  Think of it as an intellectual comic (and cosmic?) aspect of the West Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (1974) missed.  This is done in a sprawling enough way that it can be appreciated fully, but persons who do not like Westerns might only find it worth a look.  Nevertheless, Douglas does a solid directing job and all that helps make Posse an unsung Western worth rediscovering.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot with real anamorphic Panavision lenses by Fred J. Koenekamp, who has worked as often in TV as he has in theatrical films.  For TV, he did memorable work on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the original Outer Limits, the original Kung-Fu (recently cut up to be 1.78 X 1 for DVD release, despite being shot full screen!), and Salvage One.  His theatrical output includes Patton, Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, The Towering Inferno (all for Fox), Doc Savage, and the original 1975 Fun With Dick & Jane.  This is a capable, talented cameraman who does not get enough credit for his work.  The Dolby Digital is available in 2.0 Mono representing the original theatrical release sound, but the 5.1 remix is better, sporting Maurice Jarre’s amusing score.  That still only goes so far, but it has its moments.  There are no extras, oddly, but those interested in the film should not be disappointed.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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