Kentuckian

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The Kentuckian

Apr 24, 2004 (Updated Apr 25, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: OK

  • Action Factor:
  • Suspense:

Pros:Some good ideas...

Cons:...Everything else.

The Bottom Line: Don't watch unless you're a big Lancaster, Matthau, or Western fan.


Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

There are several noteworthy associations that come with The Kentuckian. The movie contains the first screen appearance of Walter Matthau and it’s also the directorial debut of Burt Lancaster. Unfortunately, the film’s noteworthiness abruptly stops there. The acting, story, and dialogue departments contain relatively little. And, it’s really a pity, because the movie shows potential with some of its father-son ideas. But, everything surrounding this topic is so poor that the movie can’t be recommended.

I remember watching The Kentuckian as a kid and complaining to my Mom that it was a horrible cowboy movie. There were no fights, no horses, and the cowboys didn’t wear cowboy hats. My Mom tried to explain to me that you don’t have to wear a cowboy hat to be a cowboy; and then, like any good mother would do for her son, she skipped ahead to the violence. It’s a heartwarming story.

Recently, I decided to give the movie another shot. I saw it on the internet for about 5 or 6 bucks and bought it. On my recent viewing, I still noticed the lack of cowboy hats, but some different things also stuck out, some good, but mostly bad.

Starting with the good, I love how the son in this movie has a Dad that is horrible on most levels, but wonderful in the ones that really count. He’s taken his son out of school and they’re on a trip from Kentucky to Texas. It can’t be a safe trip and it’s probably not what’s best for the boy. He takes the boy to saloons. The boy gets into a fight and is barely reprimanded. But, the love and affirmation of the father make up for his lack of discretion. The boy seems to be doing alright.

But, when the father has to cut back on his time with his son, the boy takes a turn for the worse. The two of them get in a tight spot that causes Burt Lancaster (the father) to start working and spending time away from his son. Now, he’s closer to doing what a good father should do, make money, send the kid to school, etc., but the boy is having problems. You then start seeing the repercussions of the father’s time away. In a better movie it would be a good reminder to society that quantity time and lots of love really make a difference in how you raise your children.

There aren’t many movies out there that have a main character as flawed as the one Burt Lancaster plays. So, it’s slightly refreshing to see this different type of character. I say slightly because, the good ends there. The movie has a poor storyline involving feats of strength with bullwhips, feuds, and an indentured servant. You ask “Why?” so many times the movie looses its power to take you to another place; which is what a good movie should do. When the characters talk, they don’t say anything that a real person would ever say. And, as you’re probably expecting, none of the actors are believable. Matthau is the best, but unless you’re a big Walter Matthau fan he doesn’t make the movie worth watching.

I wish they would remake movies like this which have a good idea, but aren’t effective in using it. Instead, they remake classics like High Noon and The Alamo. Remake a movie that needs improvement, not one that is fine how it is.

In case anyone is wondering, the DVD version offers nothing enticing but the theatrical trailer (it is widescreen, at least). The movie isn’t very pretty to look at to begin with, so the DVD rendering doesn’t do much to help it. So, I’d stay away from this one unless you’re a cowboy movie junkie (like myself) who can sit through about anything if it has a saloon and a showdown in it.


Recommend this product? No


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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