Thursday, February 17, 2022

#2,710. Cattle Annie and Little Britches (1981) - The Wild West


Now here’s a fun-filled western for you!

Directed by Lamont Johnson and based on a true story, Cattle Annie and Little Britches stars Amanda Plummer as Annie, a teenage orphan who, along with her younger friend Jennie (Diane Lane), hops a train heading west to meet her “hero”, outlaw Bill Doolin (Burt Lancaster), whose exploits she has read about in a series of articles.

Unfortunately, Doolan and his gang - which includes Bill Dalton (Scott Glenn), Little Bill Raidler (William Russ), and Native American Bittercreek Newcomb (John Savage) - have fallen on hard times. Their latest robbery was a bust, and Federal Marshal Bill Tilghman (Rod Stieger) is hot on their trail.

Annie, however, refuses to accept that Doolin is finished, and with her help the aging outlaw is soon back in the saddle, one step ahead of the law. But how long can he and his gang, which now includes “Cattle Annie” and Jennie (nicknamed “Little Britches), avoid capture?

It’s the cast that makes Cattle Annie and Little Britches such a rollicking adventure. Lancaster seems to be having the time of his life as Bill Doolin, who, despite his advancing years, still has a few tricks up his sleeve. Amanda Plummer, making her screen debut, has charisma to spare as the boisterous Annie, whose determination and spirit wins over Doolin and the others. And while the film centers more on the lawbreakers than the law, Rod Stieger shines in his few scenes as Tilghman, the Marshal who always gets his man.

Throw in a handful of humorous moments (at one point, Doolin, Annie and the gang play baseball, using equipment and uniforms they netted during a train robbery); a dramatic scene or two (Doolin’s realization that his days as a famous outlaw are drawing to a close loom heavy over the entire movie); and some nail-biting action (Annie gets her nickname when she stampedes a herd of cattle through a small town, thus allowing Doolin and the others to escape Tilghman’s posse), and you have a western that, from start to finish, is an absolute winner.

I had a great time watching Cattle Annie and Little Britches, and I think you will, too.
Rating: 9 out of 10

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