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FROM NOON TILL THREE (director/writer: Frank D. Gilroy; screenwriter: from the novel by Frank D. Gilroy; cinematographer: Lucien Ballard; editor: Maury Winetrobe; music: Elmer Bernstein; cast: Charles Bronson (Graham Dorsey), Jill Ireland (Amanda Starbuck), Douglas V. Fowley (Buck Bowers), Stan Haze (Ape), Damon Douglas (Boy), Hector Morales (The Mexican); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: M.J. Frankovich/William Self; United Artists; 1976)
“One of the most unappealing offbeat romantic/comedy Westerns ever.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

One of the most unappealing offbeat romantic/comedy Westerns ever. It’s adapted by Frank D. Gilroy (“The Gig”/”Desperate Characters”) from his own novel, whose heavy-handed direction makes mincemeat of a reasonably good and novel idea. Because the film is shapeless, Charles Bronson is forced to act. Unfortunately the man can’t act and the film after a somewhat promising beginning lumbers along like the loser it is.

Graham Dorsey (Charles Bronson) has a nightmare on the eve of his planned bank heist and envisions his gang getting shot. On the day of the robbery, Graham’s gang approaches the isolated gothic mansion of an attractive wealthy widow named Amanda Starbuck (Jill Ireland, Bronson’s wife). Attracted to Amanda and frightened by his dream, the second-rate outlaw remains behind while his gang goes into town and he cons his way into romancing the widow during the afternoon hours. When Graham leaves her to join the gang, it’s discovered the gang was wiped out. The town assumes Graham was also killed. Amanda reveals to the town that Graham was her lover and tells her story to a journalist, who helps her write a dime store novel. Graham becomes a legendary outlaw, as the public buys into the romance story between a respectable widow and a dangerous outlaw. The enterprising Amanda turns the brief fling into a moneymaking tourist attraction as visitors pay to take tours of her house and view the memorabilia, as Graham is falsely built into a legendary frontier figure the equal of Jesse James. The very much alive Graham returns to town and is jailed, but is not recognized–not even by Amanda.

The film begins with a nightmare and ends in madness, as Graham cracks up when no one believes his true story. The scene where Graham and Amanda meet in her house as he returns after being away for several years and takes the tour, has her at first refusing to believe him. It was uncomfortable to watch such bad acting. It ends up by having Amanda vow to keep the legend going to inspire others rather than be with her lover.

The film was a box office failure and Bronson went back to making formula movies, never again to veer from that safe way of making films.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”