Clint was in a hell of a lot of Westerns wasn’t he? Not that it matters much due to high quality of all his films, it’s like how Bruce Willis is the man to go for with action films and Hugh Grant for those twee rom-coms. This time Clint is playing Joe Kidd, a hunter who does what he wants. A bit meaner, but not compared to the guys he has to deal with this time.
Joe Kidd, fresh out of jail for illegally hunting on Indian land and being a nuisance to the law, comes across a proposition to hunt some Mexicans who are wreaking havoc on land which was once there’s in hope of claiming it back. He doesn’t really care and turns down the offer from the gang of land owners, until the Mexicans go and damage his land. The hunt for Luis Chama is now his business. Joining the gang he sets off for revenge, though quickly changes heart when he sees how awful the people he’s teamed up with are. People who will happily kill anyone to get their way, not the best sort.
It all leads to Joe Kidd trying to bring Luis in rather than have him killed. He may act like a jerk to everyone, but he has a strong sense of virtue. The way he tackles the gang hunting Luis is entertaining and often humorous, the film manages to bring out smiles thanks to Clint’s mannerisms. Throwing a guy down the stairs because he won’t let him past and shooting while drinking beer? Clint is as cool as ever.
The problems with Joe Kidd lie with the story. The cast is perfect and it has a few neat scenes, but the story is full of bad pacing, missed opportunities and a finale which doesn’t have the same spine tingling impact as other Clint endings have. I was expecting the guy who tries to kill Joe throughout the film to not be reduced to fodder and for the finale to show some signs of tension, though it does have two great scenes involving a train and a judge’s chair. An enjoyable film but not as good as the other classics Clint leaves in his wake.