“Way things are going, a cowboy doesn’t make enough money to live right... I don’t know what else I can do.”
Seventeen years after Shane, Jack Palance starred in another great western adapted from the work of Jack Schaefer. Monte Walsh is a far cry from the mytho-heroics of the earlier film, dealing as it does with the dying days of the cowboy (and by extension, the western); the profession’s economic realities in the face of big business interests front and centre. Elegiac in the Peckinpah-mode, nimbly balanced between classicism and New Hollywood revisionism, erstwhile DP William Fraker’s film boasts a widescreen majesty in counterpoint to its keenly felt, individuated struggles. Lee Marvin may have the eponymous lead, but Palance’s supporting role defines the term in the best possible sense. Theirs is a touching - finally heartbreaking - friendship; two pals forging divergent paths through the only world they know, even as it crumbles around them.