The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) Poster

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Peckinpah expands his horizons.
bobsgrock14 October 2012
In direct response to the controversy which erupted over the unprecedented violence and gritty realism of The Wild Bunch, Sam Peckinpah did what many of the greatest American filmmakers have done over the years. His next project would end up being almost intentionally counter to the previous film.

The result was The Ballad of Cable Hogue, a small-scale, intimate tale that is equal parts a nostalgic look back to the Old West and a tribute to the kind of man capable of surviving and thriving in such an environment. Jason Robards is touching and firm as the title character, left for dead in the prologue but able to fight through his misfortunes and create his own oasis. Along the way, he encounters a most unusual and shifty man of the cloth and a prostitute with a heart of gold. Stella Stevens is really wonderful as Hildy, one of the best examples of this most ancient of Hollywood screenplay clichés. Her romance with Hogue is both sincere and sad as Peckinpah uses this as a template for how the romantic West quickly found its way into decline and obsolescence.

Peckinpah may have gotten a lot of flack for The Wild Bunch but this film received almost just as much criticism, ironically for being almost exactly not what he had come to be known for. However, some forty years later, Peckinpah's true vision of men unable to conform to the regularities of society shines through. Gorgeous photography, solid acting, a beautiful score and themes of survival and memory point to this as one of the most brutal Western director's gentlest and personal triumphs.
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Peckinpah's lyrical vision of the West provides humour and comfort to director and viewer alike.
Spikeopath4 March 2008
The Ballad Of Cable Hogue sees Sam Peckinpah in jolly form. There is nothing here to trouble the censors, a bit of violence here and there - and some nasty human traits seam through the story, but this is purely a funny and touching movie that again deals with a Peckinpah fave theme of the Old West passing. Only difference is here he has his tongue firmly in cheek as he observes the thirst for finance sweeping across the country.

Cable Hogue is a prospector left for dead in the desert by his two double-crossing partners Bowen & Taggart. Wandering across the desert talking to god, Hogue collapses during a sandstorm and finds mud on his boot, after digging down for a while he finds the miracle of water (though Hogue badly misspells this on his advertisement). An encounter with preacher Joshua convinces Hogue to go patent his spring and make a killing selling water to the passing stagecoach trail that runs by his newly found oasis. After striking a deal in the town of Dead Dog, Hogue is set up nicely while into the bargain he falls for gorgeous prostitute Hildy. The film cheekily (just like Hogue) has established itself as a fine piece by the time it takes it's dark turn. It seems that revenge is the new found recipe on the Cable Springs Menu.

This was Sam Peckinpah's favourite film from his own CV, it's his most personal, he apparently saw a lot of himself in Cable Hogue, and with that in mind the film does gain a bit more emotional heart. But strikingly, it's the humour in there that shouldn't be understated, this was the director at one with himself, and the result is lyrical deftness. The cast are great, Jason Robards is wonderful in the title role, Stella Stevens as Hildy shows a fine actress at work. So much so it only makes me lament that she didn't have a great and industrious career post Cable Hogue. Peckinpah faves Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones & Slim Pickens reward their loyal director with impacting shows, while David Warner as the confused preacher Joshua practically steals the film with his hedonistic leanings.

Don't go into this film expecting a blood and thunder Western and you will be pleasantly surprised at it's heartbeat. Different sort of Peckinpah, but it's also essential Peckinpah. 9/10
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Sam Peckinpah's Multigenred Masterpiece
Bob-4514 April 2006
Fresh off his triumphant "The Wild Bunch" and just before his astounding "Straw Dogs," Sam Peckipah made this "little picture," that flopped. However, while "The Wild Bunch" and "Straw Dogs" are terrific movies, "Ballad of Cable Hogue" is the most accomplished of the three. It certainly is hard to categorize "...Hogue," thematically. It includes strong elements of the following genres: o Violent western o Slapstick comedy o Sophisticated comedy o Romantic comedy o Love story o Social commentary o Spiritual film

With the exception of the rather silly slapstick, director Sam Peckinpah handles all these elements superbly, particularly the social commentary, spiritual elements and love story. Much credit is due to a fine cast, particularly actress Stella Stevens and actor David Warner, who both deserved Oscar nominations. Stevens, as the prostitute, "Hildy," mines the "...heart of gold" and hits the mother lode. Hers is one of the all time great performances by an actress. Warner's manipulative preacher, "Josh," manages to be alternately witty, lecherous, noble and profound, without missing a beat.

The best I can say about Jason Robards as "Cable" is, if you loved his character, "Cheyenne" from "Once Upon a Time in the West," you love his "Cable Hogue."

Don't read the plot of this movie. Go in as I did in 1970, not knowing what to expect. You'll be amused, touched, aroused (particularly if your a male) and saddened. It's all here. How many films can you say that about?

I give "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" a "10."
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A tribute to the passing days of the Old West by a director/genius
Mickey-226 February 2001
"The Ballad of Cable Hogue", when first released in 1970, may have caught the viewing public asleep. But, over the years, people have seen this film for what it truly is--a tribute by director Sam Peckinpah to the passing away of the old west, and a brilliant performance turned in by Jason Robards as a desert hobo who finally awakens to his need for touching base with the human race, ever so often.

Cable is left out in the desert by two comrades, Bowen and Taggart, to make his own way, or perish trying, as they head back to civilization. Hogue vows to catch up to them, but first, he has to find water, which he does, then establish a business for the stage line, which he is able to do, and show a profit. All this happens, and after several years of waiting, the two former friends do happen onto his way station, and a touch of revenge is extracted by Cable upon the two who left him in the desert.

This film has some remarkable elements; a great supporting cast led by Stella Stevens, playing Hildy, David Warner portrays a lecherous preacher who becomes Hogue's partner in the desert, and Strother Martin and L. Q. Jones add the touch of villiany this film needed. Also, the musical background will stay with the viewer long after the final credits have rolled. This movie is a fantastic portrayal of the fading era of the west, and Peckinpah left the public with a classic. 9/10, easily.
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Sam Peckinpah's Best Film
allenblank12 September 2002
When people mention Sam Peckinpah, the film most mentioned is The Wild Bunch. While I'm a big fan of that very violent film, I find out that most people don't even know about The Ballad Of Cable Houge, which I feel is his finest film.

The film is about a would be prospector named Cable Houge (Jason Robards in his best performance and that's saying a lot), who is left to die out in the desert with no water by his too partners (Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones). After almost dying out in the desert Cable actually finds water. He then buys the land and makes it a stop in the desert for stagecoaches to stop and refresh the horses. He becomes friends to a traveling and lecherous preacher (well played by David Warner) and a sweet prostitute, Hilly (played by the sweet faced Stella Stevens). But what Cable is mainly doing is lying in wait for the time that he runs into his former partners again.

It's a simple fable told with very little violence, and it's well told. It's definitely not the film that you would expect from the man who made the Wild Bunch. Warner Bros. who released it didn't know what to do with it and just threw out at the public with very little publicity, and the film never go the attention that it should have. Hopefully future film scholars with rediscover this gem and lift it from obscurity.
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Lyrical and touching fable lamenting the passing of the mythic "Old West.".
munilaw31 March 1999
If you think Sam Peckinpah only made violent films, you owe it to yourself to rent this from your video store. A lovely, lyrical, and emotionally satisfying fable about the last western hero, trying to scratch out an existence as he watches his era pass him by. Wonderful performances by Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, and David Warner; an entertaining script; all directed with a light and subtle touch - for a change - by Sam Peckinpah. Although I am a great fan of the Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, and Major Dundee, Cable Hogue is in my opinion Peckinpah's masterpiece.
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A movie you will always remember
msrat1168 June 2005
I saw The Ballad of Cable Hogue while stationed in Virginia. I am not a huge fan of westerns, but this movie is one of the finest movies I have ever seen. The music itself makes the movie endearing and the characters and what they do makes the movie interesting from the start. It's a story of revenge, but there's no shoot 'em up heroics and bloody corpses lying around. Cable bides his time. What happens during this time is hilarious and the preacher is Cable's best friend. The ending is a twist that left me stunned and speechless. I won't say what happened cause there may be someone out there that has not seen the movie yet, but I highly recommend this movie. It is pure enjoyment and I am hoping that it is re-released in DVD with Dolby stereo enhancement, cause the music at the beginning is very moving. You will be humming that tune for the rest of your life. Thank you for reading my input. I would appreciate an email if the movie will be out on DVD someday.
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Found Water Where It Wasn't
virek21310 June 2007
There was always far more to Sam Peckinpah than just bullets, bloodbaths, and squibs. "Bloody Sam", as he was so often called, was also a mercurial and complicated director who could quite easily master the fine art of congenial character studies as he could the dark and violent side of Man. Case in point is his 1970 western THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE. Alongside his 1972 contemporary western JUNIOR BONNER, BALLAD is Peckinpah at his most relaxed, as well as his most overtly comic. Due to typical studio finagling, BALLAD was far from a hit when it was released in May 1970; but it has since then attained a better place in the western pantheon.

Jason Robards stars in the title role, a desert rat left to fend for himself after his two unscrupulous partners (the always-reliable Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones) abandon him without any water out on the Nevada desert. Vowing revenge one day against them, he stumbles through the desert for several days; and just when he's near the end of his rope, in the middle of a sandstorm, he comes upon water--in a place it isn't supposed to be. The waterhole becomes his salvation, and eventually a money-making enterprise, being situated along a heavily traveled stagecoach route. Into his life come a sex-starved preacher (David Warner) and a small-town prostitute (Stella Stevens) bound for New Orleans. And yet, for all the companionship they provide and all the money he gets from the water, he still can't stop thinking about getting even with Martin and Jones--a fact that eats at him and makes him vindictive, even towards Stevens and Warner.

Stuck as it was between THE WILD BUNCH and STRAW DOGS in the Peckinpah film canon, THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE was largely considered by some to be a minor film, seeing as how it had next to no violence to speak of (which makes the 'R' rating it has a bit much today--'PG-13' would be more like it). But it showed that Peckinpah cared as much for characters as he did for content, a fact that holds true for all of his best movies but which so often got set aside because so many critics focused on the violence. The musical interludes don't necessarily catch on very well, but they are the only (minor) flaw to this congenial mix of comedy and drama in a sagebrush setting. Robards does his usual good job as the grizzled desert rat; Stevens scores as the love he really can't have; and Warner's performance as the lecherous preacher Joshua is incredible. Other Peckinpah regulars like R.G. Armstrong and Slim Pickens provide the usual great support; and the period score by Jerry Goldsmith, and Lucien Ballard's fine cinematography top things off.

THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE is a film in need of revival, both for Peckinpah cultists in particular and indeed Western film fans in general. It proved that even a troublesome Hollywood infant terrible like Sam Peckinpah could be congenial when given the right material.
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Desert Rose
slokes6 April 2008
It's not hard figuring out what went wrong at the box office with Sam Peckinpah's follow-up to "The Wild Bunch". Not many who thrilled to the bloody end of Pike and Dutch were ready for an amiable rom-com, even one that starts out with an exploding lizard. Jason Robards finding love and God in the desert? Doesn't sound too promising, does it?

The wonder of "The Ballad Of Cable Hogue", or rather the first of many wonders, is how well it plays. This is Peckinpah's finest moment, one that stands alongside the greatest westerns of all time. It's a lot of fun, and at the same time, incredibly deep, its joys falling effortlessly into tragedy and back into joy like a desert bloom.

Robards plays Hogue, left in the desert to die by two faithless companions, Taggart (L.Q. Jones) and Bowen (Strother Martin in his best film performance). Instead, Hogue finds water, the only water along a stage road connecting the towns of Gila and Deaddog, water enough to make him rich. He also finds wayward preacher Joshua (David Warner) and ravishing prostitute Hildy (Stella Stevens), who puts aside her Frisco dreams to shack up with Cable. But can Cable put aside his dream of revenge against Taggart and Bowen?

You really don't need to know any more about "Cable Hogue" than that going in. You probably shouldn't know any more, because Peckinpah's film is all the better for the way it catches you by surprise. It's a stunningly different and more positive film from the director of the nihilistic "Wild Bunch". At the same time, it works as a reverse examination of that earlier film's major themes. If "Bunch" is about damnation, "Cable Hogue" is about salvation, and redemption, in a way that probably didn't help the film hit with audiences of the time but makes it timeless today.

Robards' performance is the center and the key of "Cable Hogue", the way he plays the character with equal parts ruthlessness and comic grace. Cable is at heart a good man, irreverent but a man of faith. His shy yet penetrating gaze breaks your heart in scenes like the one where he asks a banker for a grubstake and offers himself sheepishly as collateral: "Well, I'm worth something, ain't I?" Yet he is locked into himself and his demons so deeply that he can't recognize Hildy for the saving grace she represents. Sam working from his inner demons, no doubt, but coming up with deeper and better answers than he usually did.

The supporting cast is uniformly excellent, led by Stevens in a performance that plays up her sex appeal without shortchanging her inner vibrancy. Warner's preacher character is essential also; he's a lustful hypocrite but a genuine man of God in his cockeyed way. Sure, his idea of spiritual consolation to young women involves much groping – but he also speaks truly about what drives Hogue in the wrong direction.

"What do you call that passion that gnaws at the walls of your soul?" he asks Hogue. "That's the very passion that will nurture the dandelions above your grave."

We of course would rather see Cable have his confrontation with Taggart and Bowen, something which arrives in such a backasswards way it only adds to "Cable's" unique genius.

Peckinpah was not a natural comedic director, and there are bits of goofy awkwardness here and there. But even when it's more Benny Hill than Boot Hill, the prevailing anything-goes mood wins you over. Everywhere in this film, Peckinpah takes chances with what he can get across and what the audience will accept. This makes "Cable Hogue" a lot bolder than the standard bloodbath.

Watching "Cable Hogue" offers a lot of iconoclastic fun, yet not without pushing you in uncomfortable directions. Whether or not you wind up happy with it, you will remember the ride, and I hope, find it as worthwhile as I did.
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A warm and vivid film with a distinctive flavor that teases the sense of taste…
Nazi_Fighter_David1 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Sam Peckinpah's "The Ballad of Cable Hogue," although still very much concerned with the sere and yellow, offers light, or, at least, lighter relief…

Thirst does very much play a part in his history at the outset…. Robbed and abandoned by his partners (Strother Martin and L. O. Jones) in the desert, Jason Robards is saved from certain death by finding water from a spring… And out of this discovery comes a sort of success story…

The spring is handy to the stagecoach route and so, assisted by a banker in the nearby of an unexciting town (Deaddog is the indicative name), he sets up a 'halt' on the trail… In Deaddog he also chums up with the local whore (Stella Stevens). And always aiding and encouraging him is a mischievous preacher (David Warner) who is ever willing and able to give more than spiritual comfort to the female members of his flock…

The old fellow's project prospers; the sympathetic prostitute pays him a fleeting but rewarding visit; he eventually gets revenge on one of the partners who left him to die… And the happiest ending seems to purr into view in the form of a splendid car carrying the good-time gal who has finally decided to settle down with him…

Allegory? Or straight romantic comedy? One is never sure but it's a warm and vivid film with a distinctive flavor that teases the sense of taste… Whether the style is peak Peckinpah is another matter…
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From the director of The Wild Bunch
Petey-1023 October 2000
Cable Hogue (Jason Robards) is left in the desert without any water.After a few days he finds a springs with lots of water. He offers some water to the stagecoach passengers for money. Until the automobiles take over.He becomes a friend with a preacher Joshua Sloane (David Warner).In the nearest town lives a whore called Hildy (Stella Stevens) who becomes Cable's lover and later they move together.Sam Peckinpah directed a terrific western comedy in 1970-one year after he directed The Wild Bunch.Some people may not like it so much because it isn't as violent as The Wild Bunch but I don't mind, I don't mind at all. The casting in the movie is brilliant.Jason Robards was a perfect man to play Cable Hogue.The movie has many memorable scenes.The Ballad of Cable Hogue left a good taste in my mouth- and I still haven't got it out.
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Butterfly mornin's, and wild flower afternoons.
Hey_Sweden17 September 2015
Extremely appealing fable from the celebrated director Sam Peckinpah, who works from an often poetic script by Edmund Penny and actor John Crawford. Here he and a very fine cast create some endearing characters worth getting to know. He also revisits the theme of the changing times in the American West (the story is set in 1908, and our characters marvel at the sight of a car). It crosses genres with ease - Western, drama, comedy - and even at 122 minutes, never feels padded out.

Jason Robards is excellent as the title character, betrayed by his lowlife associates, Bowen (Strother Martin), and Taggart (L.Q. Jones), and left to wander the desert on his own. Cable crosses the desert for days, almost certain to perish due to lack of water. Then, by miracle, Cable discovers an underground well of water. He travels to the nearest town to use his very meager funds to buy two acres in the area, and crafts what turns out to be a thriving way station in this desert wilderness. He also makes the acquaintance of wistful prostitute Hildy (Stella Stevens) and lustful preacher Joshua (David Warner).

Robards's compelling performance anchors this saga, as Cable courts the vague hope that someday Bowen and Taggart will stop by his place for water and he can get some revenge. The gorgeous Stevens - who does some rather tasteful nudity for the picture - flourishes in one of her best ever roles as Hildy, too, yearns for something more out of life. Warner supplies quite a bit of lecherous comedy relief, as he can't help helping himself to the ladies. This solid assemblage of actors also includes Slim Pickens, Peter Whitney, R.G. Armstrong, Gene Evans, Kathleen Freeman, and Vaughn Taylor.

Lovely, sun baked photography and a lush score by Jerry Goldsmith are other positive attributes to this poignant film, considered by some to be one of Peckinpahs' finest efforts.

Eight out of 10.
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He wouldn't have had it any other way, The Ballad of Cable Hogue
AndrewRobertsVoice7 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
An irony of the late great American treasure, film director Sam Peckinpah, who was accused by film critics of glorifying violence in his film 'The Wild Bunch', was ignored by critics and audiences, who did not review much less see his next crowning achievement. "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" is the perfect follow up film after the critical and box office success of 1969's "Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch". For 'The Ballad of Cable Hogue' is it's antithesis in just about every way, being it is a gentle western love story with comical overtones. Sam Peckinpah not only had poetic depth; he also had wide range in talent. This little film showcases the lighter side of Sam Peckinpah.

"The Ballad of Cable Hogue" may be a Masterpiece of film-making that is overlooked for its simplicity, jagged haggard look and lack of violence. It appears that Sam Peckinpah used 'Cable Hogue' to explore the experience 'Change' in a lonely man who's life long creed is:Treat everybody the way you want to be treated, as he gets second chance at life and seems to be reaping the karma from the good he has sowed throughout his miserable life. After we first meet Cable Hogue (Jason Robards giving one of his BEST screen performances), his 'partners' shoot him for his water in the desert and leave him for dead. He survives; meeting the likes of a wayward reverend played to the hilt by David Warner! Cable accidentally finds he's above an oasis of water. He goes to the nearest town and purchases the land, when meets an angelic prostitute Hildy, played by Stella Steven in her most acclaimed role of her career! Although she'll be damned if she knows why, they fall head of heels in love with each other. He builds his well for a watering stop for the stage coaches and his home he hopes Hildy will share with him in. Then his partners, who left him for dead, return.

I hope with the DVD release of one of Sam Peckinpah's finest achievements in film-making gains the wide audience it deserves.
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Turn-of-the-Century Saga Lives Up to Legendary Title
tomreynolds20045 April 2004
Jason Robards plays the hard-bitten and oft-bemused title character, Cable Hogue who somehow survives the ordeal of being left to die in the desert with no water by his partners, perfectly portrayed by the incomparable L.Q.(A Boy and His Dog) Jones and Strother Martin.

He travels from town to town with unscrupulous preacher David Warner, met in turn by some of Hollywood's classic Western supporting actors, such as R. G. Armstrong, Slim Pickens, Kathleen Freeman, and Gene Evans. Stella Stevens does a good job with the thankless obligatory role as the prostitute-with-the-heart-of-gold. All this helps lighten the mostly bemused, occasionally amused, but always revenge-dream-filled and heavy presence of Jason Robards. Eventually, Cable gets his chance at what he's been waiting for, and...

Now, you have even more incentive to go see the film - Peckinpaugh's most underrated western. 10/10
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Peckinpah's gentle elegy for the Wild West
aelaycock5 March 2012
I didn't even know this was a Sam Peckinpah movie when I watched it. It has been programmed regularly on Cable TV here in the UK, and I idly switched over to it one Sunday evening. Cowboy movies in 2012? You must be joking! However, I was sufficiently hooked to watch this guy left for dead in the desert. It looks like Jason Robards, so it has to have something going for it. He finds a muddy puddle in the desert. OK, a cliché about this guy building up a prosperous business from scratch. Well, not quite. The clichés never happen. Instead the dialogue is interesting, poetic, never predictable. The character of Cable Hogue has depth and empathy. David Warner hoves into view as a disreputable preacher, dressed in black and thin as a gutter. In the nearest town we meet the hooker, played beautifully by the delectable Stella Stevens. OK, there are elements of slapstick which never quite work, but you feel the movie has something beyond the conventional western. When I discovered it was by Peckinpah, I immediately thought - yes, this is the work of a great director. Not a full-blown symphony, perhaps a string quartet (though by all accounts it cost enough to make). It leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction, tinged with melancholy. That coyote at the end has a collar - perhaps a symbol of the taming of the wilderness.
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Stirring and lyrical Western marvelously performed and compellingly directed
ma-cortes15 May 2010
This classic Western deal with Cable Hogue (Jason Robards) a roguish hustler who in search of good life discovers water and gets property some lands placed on a desert in remote part of the Old West . After getting its register in the Land Office , Cable meets a whore (Stella Stevens) and falls in love with her . Cable along with the prostitute and a lecherous priest (David Warner) care his stopover as resort-lodging of a line stage. Hogue's Castle was a real-life hotel which was acquired in Bishop, California. It was packed-up and transported along with its own furniture to its shooting location across the border in Nevada.

Interesting story about a loner who turns into successful entrepreneur is deliberately paced by Sam Peckinpah and the production base for the film was at Echo Bay, Nevada . A twilight story ,¨Ballad of Cable Hogue¨ is a director Sam Peckinpah's lovely effort, feeling look at the world of the Western. Jason Robards , engagingly easygoing but obstinate , is the title character, a drifter who strives to preserve his values in an often harsh modern world . Robards turns a magnificent acting as a hustler who is searching in a changing world for values that have long time disappeared . He also must deal with his two enemies well played by usual Peckinpah couple, L.Q. Jones and Strother Martin , and a lovely whore wonderfully performed by Stella Stevens in his best role ever acted . Sam Peckinpah started work on this film almost immediately after finishing work on the landmark ¨Wild bunch¨ that is why Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones were cast in similar roles in both films . David Warner is particularly fine as the raunchy priest and in his relationship to Jason Robards strike real sparks. Furthermore, it contains an emotive score by the master Jerry Goldsmith, adding various sensitive country-western songs . Colorful and glimmer cinematography by Lucien Ballard, Peckinpah's usual, make this one a winner. An agreeable western with marvelous interpretations and exciting , enjoyable images including split-frames and fast-motion . This outstanding motion picture is stunningly directed by Sam Peckinpah, creating a true classic . Restored and reissued various times with diverse running . ¨The Ballad of Cable Hogue ¨ is a real must see for fans of the genre . This is a much quieter movie than habitual from ¨Cross of Iron¨, ¨Straw dogs¨, ¨The getaway¨, ¨Wild bunch¨ , ¨Major Dundee¨ director Sam Peckinpah who has always a deft eye for period detail . Rating : Above average, well worth watching .
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To be good: one man preached it and the other practiced it.
tmwest18 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I agree with one of the comments that says this film is theological. From the beginning, when Cable is dying in the desert and submits himself to the wishes of God to the end when the reverend makes an eulogy stating that Cable's temple is the cathedral of the desert. Cable is a saintly man, he refuses to kill a man who betrayed him and will try to kill him, besides calling him a coward because he did not pull the trigger. He gives love and self respect to a prostitute, and also shows a lack of attachment to material things and forgiveness. In the same way that Cable practices good actions, the reverend preaches about it but is not able to be a saintly man because he cannot resist his sexual drive. This film gives us three great performances by Jason Robards, Stella Stevens and David Warner. It is very enjoyable, most of the time like a comedy, but it sure makes you think a lot.
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Tremendous movie reflecting heavy theological message
keith-kendall8 August 2003
The beginning of this movie is very much like the 40 years in the wilderness experienced by the Jewish People and recorded in the Old Testament. A vicious cycle of dependence, repentance, and rebellion. The movie carries a heavy theme about the attitude of religion of the times and today. The most godly people of the film are Cable and Hilde. The scene between Cable and the Banker is one of most powerful scenes in the movie. The music and songs are very appropriate and memorable. I have been singing "Butterfly Morning" for over 30 years. My children love the movie and watch it all them time. I used it in a class I taught on the History of Religion at the college level. The movie examines religious values, hypocrisy and piety in a very interesting way. This is by far one of the best films ever made. A timeless classic. Everyone should see this movie.
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Romantic-comedy western
roncohen369 October 2005
Jason Robards Jr. stars in one of the sweetest romance-comedy westerns by one of the most violent directors of the time Sam Peckinpah. Not long after starring in "Once Upon A time In The West". Robards is a pleasure to watch at any time. Cast perfectly with Stella Stevens. It is amazing to me that Sam Peckinpah could change gears after directing "The Wild Bunch" just one year earlier (1969). Well written with a good, (if not a touch hokey), cover song "Butterfly Morning".

These two men seemed to have a lot in common both in the military service, their early TV work and they're athletic abilities when in school. This film is sentimental and funny without any blood and guts. And after seeing it at least 25 times it is still just plain fun. And my impression is that all involved in the making of this film must have had a good time making it.
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To err is human; to forgive, divine
Wuchakk19 September 2016
Released in 1970 and directed by Sam Peckinpah, "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" is a quirky Western drama/comedy/romance starring Jason Robards as a grizzled man left to die in the SW desert, but he miraculously finds a spring and starts a way station servicing stagecoach people and other travelers. He befriends a dubious evangelist (David Warner) and falls in love with a local prostitute (Stella Stevens) while hoping for revenge against the men who double-crossed him (Strother Martin & L.Q. Jones). R.G. Armstrong is on hand as a banker.

If you're looking for a conventional Western akin to Pechinpah's "Ride the High Country" (1962) or "The Wild Bunch" (1969), look elsewhere because this is a totally offbeat Western. As noted above, it's an eccentric mix of drama, comedy and romance, but such a description doesn't do it justice because it's so much more. Despite its amusing elements, it's a clever commentary on the human condition: The nature of God and man, spirit and flesh, love and sex, vengeance and forgiveness, religion and libertinism. Legalistic types might find it "offensive" and "anti-God," but nothing could be further from the truth. The LORD is all over this movie, despite the characters' overt moral failings or simple ignorance, just as depicted in the bible (the stories of Samson, Rahab and Naomi come to mind). If you can overlook the goofiness, or let it amuse you, this movie is actually profound with riches to mine. My title blurb says it all.

The film runs 121 minutes and was shot in Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.

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The Mild Bunch
kenjha9 April 2010
Peckinpah followed up his masterpiece, "The Wild Bunch," which featured slow-motion violence, with this gentle comedy western featuring fast-motion comedy. Robards is wonderful in the title role, a good-natured loser who hits upon a goldmine by stumbling upon a water spring in the desert. Stevens looks hot and has one of her best roles as a hooker with a heart of gold. The great supporting cast includes Martin and Jones, who seem to have picked up right where they left off in "The Wild Bunch." While enjoyable, it is perhaps a little too low-key to sustain a running time of two hours, and the ending is rather contrived. The soundtrack includes a couple of tuneful songs.
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A great film with an even better soundtrack
jrodger7 February 2005
I first saw The Ballad of Cable Hogue in Vietnam in 1970. For years afterwards, I wondered if it was really as good as I recalled or whether I thought it was good at the time because it was the only film I saw in a year. Finally about five years ago I found and bought the VHS tape: it is even better than I remembered. Perhaps it helps to be 30 years older than I was then. And the good news is that the soundtrack is available now, having been released by Varese Sarabande ( "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" which plays through the opening credits of the film is one of the great ballads of the last fifty years, for my money. See the film! Get the soundtrack! You'll never regret it.
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tragicomic peckinpah
Azzy9 April 1999
This movie is a truly different Sam Peckinpah movie. Clear sharp humor and beleivable romance. Not exactly your typcal Bloody Sam Movie. Jason Robards Jr is very poignant as Cable, a man out of his time. Stella Stevens is stunning, and Strother Martain an L.Q. Jones play their villain roles with characteristic aplomb. But the real show stopper is David Warner as the randy reverend Joshua Sloan. There isn't scene he's in which he doesn't steal. The mix of tragedy comedy and romance is flawless. Truly a classic western, as well as a milestone in Peckinpah's career.
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I saw it in 1970 and it has haunted me ever since....
sirk4616 March 2006
A western so unlike anything else of the genre I was accustomed to. When it magically reappeared on disc I was skeptical..would it stand the test of time? It HAS and more. An overlooked gem, a second feature (when there WERE second features) addendum which NOW with release of the disc should take it's place, rightfully, as one of the outstanding works of Sam Peckinpah. A brilliant and troubled director, each of his movies reveals more of himself As if peeling an onion. He has been stigmatized by some for the violence of The Wild Bunch and by others for the 'tricks' of fast action and winking dollar bills of Cable Hogue. The total of his work is more than the sum of it's parts.. however I do believe this movie will serve as his epitaph as it is rediscovered. Listen to the theme song and understand.
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One of Sam Peckinpah's Best.
Nick Beaudine12 January 2006
This was Peckinpah's favorite movie he ever. It's not my favorite, but it's one of his best. It has the great elements for a Peckinpah movie that makes it work. Great direction, acting, editing, cinematography, musical score (especially the songs). I also believe this is Jason Robards finest and best screen role he ever did. It's a shame that the film never got the intention it should have received. Stella Stevens, David Warner, L.Q. Jones, and Strother Martin turn in some fine roles, too. It has the perfect amount of humor and drama to make this Western work, along with its romantic and revenge story lines. It was the perfect follow up to "The Wild Bunch".
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