EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|REIVERS, THE (director: Mark Rydell; screenwriters: Harriet Frank, Jr./Irving Ravetch/based on the novel by William Faulkner; cinematographer: Richard Moore; editor: Thomas Stanford; music: John Williams; cast: Steve McQueen (Boon Hogganbeck), Sharon Farrell (Corrie), Ruth White (Miss Reba), Will Geer (Boss McCaslin), Mitch Vogel (Lucius McCaslin), Rupert Crosse (Ned), Juano Hernandez (Uncle Possum), Lonny Chapman (Maury McCaslin), Clifton James (Sheriff Butch Lovemaiden), Lindy Davis (Otis), Ruth White (Reba), Vinnette Carrol (Aunt Callie), Allyn Ann McLerie (Alison McCaslin), Burgess Meredith (Narrator); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Irving Ravetch/Robert E. Relyea/Rick Rosenberg; Paramount Home Video; 1969)|
|"Fine adventure tale."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Reivers is an old-fashioned Scottish word for rogue or thief. This fine adventure tale (not exactly a wholesome Disney pic, but still wholesome enough to be a family entertainment film) is adapted from William Faulkner's final novel (published a month before his death in 1962) by writers Harriet Frank, Jr. and Irving Ravetch. The writers capture the spirit of Faulkner's novel and include the accessible social commentary. It's about three playful characters getting into trouble in 1905 Mississippi. Former actor turned director Mark Rydell ("The Rose"/"On Golden Pond"/"The Cowboys"), who before had dated Steve McQueen's wife Neile, found himself at odds with the star during the shoot and the two fierce rivals had heated arguments throughout and vowed to never work together again (a vow that was kept). The Reivers did a respectable enough box office to please the suits. Though it's somewhat disappointing that popular star McQueen, going against type by playing a hayseed, couldn't give this indie (made by National General) a bigger jolt.
The McCaslins, of Jefferson,
Mississippi, get their first
1905 yellow Winton Flyer. This most excites their spunky
11-year-old son Lucius McCaslin (Mitch Vogel), as the family makes Boon Hogganbeck (Steve
McQueen) their driver. He's an irresponsible but loyal and cheerful
When the elder
Chapman), the father, and Boss (Will Geer),
the grandfather--are called away to a funeral in St. Louis, they leave
the feisty Lucius in the care of old Aunt Callie.
This prompts the ne'er-do-well Boon to talk Lucius into letting him take the car on a drive
to Memphis (80 miles
and nearly 24 hours away).
On the road, they discover that Lucius' alleged distant cousin Ned (Rupert Crosse), a mixed-race young man found as a baby on
the McCaslin property, is a
stowaway. When the adventuress trio reach their destination, Ned goes
on his own while Boon takes Lucius to Miss Reba's bordello. The whore Corrie (Sharon Farrell), who has
a heart of gold, is Boon's favorite, but she talks of marriage and
quitting her profession which catches Boon off-guard. Meanwhile Corrie's nephew, Otis
(Lindy Davis), sleeps
with Lucius that night. Friction arises when Otis calls his aunt a
whore and the innocent Lucius
defends her honor. For his troubles, Lucius receives a superficial
knife wound. Ned
arrives the next morning saying he traded the car for
a racehorse named Lightning, which makes Lucius fret about retribution
from his elders. It's further explained that
the car is the prize in a race between Lightning and another horse,
the temperamental Lightning wrecks the stall after being fed
sardines (which makes the horse become speedy) and the slovenly racist
sheriff (Clifton James)
curses Ned out with racial slurs, Boon comes to his defense and the
trio are arrested. It ends justifiably with the aforementioned horse
race, as winning brings everyone together.
This is far from top-notch
Faulkner, and it seems more the type of story that a Mark Twain would
spin in his Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn novels. Nevertheless it works as an
entertaining coming-of-age film that has some serious underlying
messages about Southern mores and racism.
It's narrated by Lucius as an adult, with Burgess Meredith doing the narration.
REVIEWED ON 9/13/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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