In 1935, after forty years in a West Virginia prison, three released convicts wish to open a legitimate business using the twenty-five thousand dollars earned in jail, but a crooked prison guard in cahoots with the town banker plans to defraud them.
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A woman is found murdered in a house along the coast from Brighton. Local detectives Fellows and Wilks lead an investigation methodically following up leads and clues mostly in Brighton and... See full summary »
Outlaw Luther Sledge and sidekick Mallory pull into the town of 3 W for an overnight stay. While Sledge heads upstairs to spend the night with long-time prostitute friend Ria and a bottle of rye, his sidekick Mallory enters a game of poker downstairs in the saloon. Frustrated with loosing their money to Mallory, two of the other gamblers shoot him dead. Alerted to the downstairs gunshot noise, Sledge descends in the saloon, pretending he's drunk, catches the two gamblers unprepared and shoots them dead. An old man who witnessed the shooting offers to serve as Sledge's witness and swear it was self-defense in case of an inquiry. The next day, Sledge leaves town to meet with the rest of his gang in the hills. He notices the old man from the saloon following him on horseback some distance away. Sledge stops the old man and asks him why he is following behind. The old man explains that he is not following Sledge but rather a convoy escorting a gold shipment. Interested, Sledge takes him ...Written by
Although there are a lot of familiar "television" names associated with "A Man Called Sledge", there is nothing extraordinary about the film itself or about any of the performances. In fact, the only thing that distinguishes it from a 1960's-70's television series like "The Rat Patrol" is a bigger cast and a lot more violence.
James Garner is the biggest star and apparently thought he should try to break away from all the light comedy stuff he had been doing ("Maverick", "Support Your Local Sheriff"-"Gunfighter" etc.). Unfortunately his earthy likability works against him, as Sledge is a humorless character written to cash in on the popularity of Clint Eastwood's spaghetti western character. But Eastwood's stuff was not this flat and uninteresting.
I suppose that "A Man Called Sledge" could be classified as a spaghetti western although the pacing is too slow to really fit that sub-genre. Fans of the slow-paced "Combat" television series will feel an instant connection as Vic Morrow directed the film and co-wrote the script with Frank Kowalski. Throw in some then trendy slow-mo shots and cross-dissolves, which call attention to themselves rather than serve a story-telling purpose.
The plot is the standard "big heist" thing (insert "The War Wagon" here) with Sledge plotting how to heist a $300,000 gold shipment. His gang includes Claude Akins and Dennis Weaver. The problem is that while on the move the shipment is guarded by 40 outriders and while stopped it is locked in a vault inside the territorial prison. I think there was an episode of "Alias Smith and Jones" with the same plot.
The story would make a decent hour of television but gets old very fast as a very padded feature length film. Garner does not allow any of his charm to leak into his characterization and the film does not generate enough suspense to hold a viewer's interest.
The thing finally crashes and burns shortly after the heist when the gang engages in a contrived and totally illogical card game.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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