(director: Sidney Lumet; screenwriters: Stephen Friedman/based on the novel Leaving Cheyenne by Larry McMurtry; cinematographer: Edward Brown; editor: Joanne Burke; music: Fred Hellerman; cast: Anthony Perkins (Gid), Beau Bridges (Johnny), Blythe Danner (Molly), Edward Binns (Mr. Fry), Susan Sarandon (Sarah), Conrad Fowkes (Eddie), Claude Traverse (Mr. Taylor), John Henry Faulk (Mr. Grinsom); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Stephen Friedman; Columbia Pictures; 1974)
Lackluster direction by Sidney Lumet.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Lackluster direction by Sidney Lumet (“The Verdict”/”Prince of the City”/”The Group”)of a film based onthe novel Leaving Cheyenne by Larry McMurtry. It’s written in a phony country-styled tongue by the producer Stephen Friedman (when the heroine Molly sits on her porch and exclaims “My menfolk began rising with the moon,” I wanted to either barf or break out in laughter). The slow moving drama, with few rewards for the patient viewer, follows along the lines of McMurtry’s misty eyed The Last Picture Show. It traces two friends, the withdrawn uptight farmer Gid (Anthony Perkins) and the composed detached cowboy Johnny (Beau Bridges), and their life-long challenge to win the love of the independent-minded pretty farm girl Molly (Blythe Danner). The story begins in 1925, in a small Texas town, where the three protagonists are neighbors and are involved in a love triangle. We follow their lives for the span of 40 years, as their youthful salad days begin to sour with age and too much materialism and their menage a trois becomes old hat.

Molly disappoints them both by refusing to ever marry either suitor, as she can’t make up her mind which suitor to choose. Her woman’s-lib character slides into an earth-mother role when circumstances warrant it, and there’s much nonsensical cornball country dialogue to hang onto if you want to ride this one off into the sunset.

Narrated by the three protagonists, the pic offers few insights about romance though it pretends it has lots to say about relationships. But the acting is OK (that is if you can stomach city slickers playing country folks), and it offers a few interesting moments to make things at least bearable.