PONY EXPRESS RIDER
(director: Robert Totten; screenwriters: Dan Greer/Hal Harrison Jr.; cinematographer: Bernie Abramson; editor: Marsh Hendry; music: Robert O. Ragland; cast: Stewart Petersen (Jimmie Lee Richardson), Henry Wilcoxon (Trevor Kingman), Buck Taylor (Bovey Kingman), Maureen McCormick (Rose Kingman), Ken Curtis (Jed Richardson), Joan Caulfield (Charlotte), Slim Pickens (Bob), Jack Elam (Crazy Charlie), Larry D. Mann (Chester Blackmore), Bea Morris (Marquette Richardson), Ace Reis (Bullfrog), Thomas C. Parker (Gibby); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: G; producer: Dan Greer; Doty-Dayton Releasing; 1976)
“A poorly conceived family value revenge Western.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A poorly conceived family value revenge Western, that looks more like a made for televion movie than a feature movie. It’s directed by Robert Totten, noted as a TV director of oaters, and written by Dan Greer and Hal Harrison Jr. Set in East Texas in 1861, goat farmer Jed Richardson (Ken Curtis) is threatened to be kicked off the land by his longtime friend and landowner Trevor Kingman (Henry Wilcoxon) unless he gives up his goats and helps his no-account son Bovey Kingman (Buck Taylor) run his big-time ranch while he’s away as the new governor of the Nevada Territory, in Montana, on the request of President Buchanan. A stupid premise, since a wealthy man like Trevor could easily afford to hire able cowboys to run the ranch and would hardly need someone as inexperienced in Longhorns as Jed.
When Jed refuses, Bovey forces him to come to the ranch at night and gets into a fistfight with the drunken bully. When Bovey soundly loses, he shoots Jed in the back. Jed’s young son, Jimmie Lee Richardson (Stewart Petersen), who wanted to marry Bovey’s sister Rose (Maureen McCormick), seeks revenge as he joins the Pony Express only to hunt down the killer (joining the Pony Express is just another plot point that makes no sense!). Jimmie finally tracks Bovey down in the governor’s mansion and the matter is resolved with Bovey’s arrest by a Texas Ranger hired as bodyguard for the governor, but it comes just at the brink of the Civil War and a disillusioned Trevor is disgusted when he learns that his handler Blackmore only got him appointed governor so he could bring the Nevada Territory into the war on the side of the Confederates. Trevor quits and returns to Texas to be a cowboy again, while Jimmie holds Rose in his arms.
The film was somewhat helped by notable old-timers in supporting character roles, that include Joan Caulfield, Henry Wilcoxon, Jack Elam, Ken Curtis, Slim Pickens and Dub Taylor. Otherwise, this is a dullish Western.
REVIEWED ON 8/12/2005 GRADE: C