Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Reward

FXM Retro has a thing with showing movies toward of the Retro block one day, and then repeating them at the beginning of the block the next day. One thing that's good about this is that it makes it easier to blog about such films. Another film that received the same treatment is The Reward, which you can catch again tomorrow (June 12) at 4:00 AM.

Max von Sydow plays Scott Swenson, a crop duster working in Mexico for reasons that aren't quite explained and would be beside the point. He's in Mexico, and he has an accident while trying to land the plane. The accident destroys his plane, but also brings down a water tower, resulting in several thousand pesos in damages. His choices should be to either pay the damages or go to jail. He can't pay the damages, but there's a bit of luck for him, if you can call it luck. Apparently, another American, Frank Bryant (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.) is wanted for allegedly kidnapping and shooting a young boy. if Scott joins the police captain Carbajal (Gilbert Roland) as part of the posse looking for Bryant, then he can have his freedom. Plus, there's a $50,000 reward for the return of Bryant, dead or alive, that only Carbajal and Scott know about.

So Carbajal rounds up a couple of men: police sergeant Lopez (Emilio Fernandez), young Luis (Nino Castelnuovo), and the native tracker Joaquin (Henry Silva). They eventually find where Bryant ditched his car, so they're on the right path. But there's a problem. Bryant and his girlfriend Sylvia (Yvette Mimieux) traded the car in for a pair of horses. They're going to try to cross the Mexican desert on horseback and escape the police that way. Perhaps these fools should have tried watching a movie like Yellow Sky to know the pointlessness of trying such an escape. But then we wouldn't have a movie. Carbajal rounds up enough horses for the posse, and the five are on the way.

Unsurprisingly, they find Bryant and Sylvia, and capture them for taking back to town and the justice and financial reward that comes with so doing. But there's one small catch. Scott makes the mistake of using a piece of newspaper that has the article regarding the bounty on Bryant's head, and Lopez discovers it. Needless to say, he wants the reward too. And he doesn't care whether Bryant is brought in dead or alive. Furthermore, if he has to kill everybody else in the posse to claim the reward, he might not be that opposed to such a thing.

There are a lot of themes in The Reward that are familiar to anybody who's watched a bunch of westerns. But unfortuntaely, the movie never really goes anywhere. The characters, for the most part, I found difficult to have any sympathy for or care about. They seem not quite cardboard cutouts, but certainly not rich characters. Perhaps a lot of that blame falls on the writing. There's a lot of talk that seems far more tedious than expository or really advancing the plot. And the ending is one that I found a thorough let-down. As always when I don't care for a movie, though, you might want to watch for yourself to see if you don't agree with my opinion.

I don't think The Reward is on DVD at all, so if you want to see it you'll have to catch the FXM Retro showing.

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