Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Culpepper Cattle Company

I noticed that The Culpepper Cattle Company is coming up on FXM Retro this morning at 9:25 AM and tomorrow morning at 8:05 AM, so I made it a point to watch it off my DVR last night so I could do a review on it here.

Gary Grimes plays Ben Mockridge, a young man in Texas who is ready to make his own way in life as a man. He's heard that Frank Culpepper (Billy Green Bush) is going to be driving a herd of cattle from Texas to Colorado, and Ben is determined to get a job as part of the cattle drive. Of course, he's never done such a thing before, and doesn't know what a cattle drive is really like.

It turns out that a cattle drive is brutal, and if you're not enough of a man, nobody is going to accept you. Things first go bad when somebody rustles a bunch of cattle and the Culpupper crew lose some men in a gunfight to get the cattle back. Ben is sent off to a town well away to recruite replacements, but along the way his horse and gun get stolen by a couple of trappers. He is fortunate, however, to get them back on the way back courtesy of the men he recruited, who seem rather violent.

Then again, everybody in The Culpepper Cattle Company, more or less, is violent, with the exception of Ben and a group of religiously-motivated settlers the cattle drive meets in the run-up to the film's climax. There's one shootout after another, becoming increasingly inexplicable. The last one even has Ben seemingly in the middle, with none of the bad guys thinking to shoot him; it's not as if they have any compunction about shooting everybody else.

I had some big problems with The Culpepper Cattle Company. Not because of the violence, but because the movie never really seemed to be going anywhere. I understand that it's part of the film's point that the cowboy lifestyle wasn't romantic and in fact would have been nasty, brutish, and short. But I found the movie to be incoherent at times, with an ending that makes little sense. Then again, I also have to admit that westerns have never been my favorite genre.

With that last caveat in mind, you may want to watch and judge for yourself. The movie seems to be out of print on DVD, however, although it does seem available from Amazon streaming if you can do that thing.

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