***Amusing Eastwood dramedy about a Wild West Show with a good cast*** A small, struggling Wild West Show consisting of several misfits travels through Montana & Idaho wherein they stumble upon a haughty heiress (Sondra Locke) whom the honest owner (Clint Eastwood) hires as his assistant in the show. "Bronco Billy" (1980) is an Eastwood dramedy in the manner of “Every Which Way But Loose” (1978), but with maybe less goofiness in the side characters. While not as successful at the box office, it’s every bit as good in its likable, low-key amusing way. The movie’s about redemption and pursuing your dreams, persevering through challenges and acquiring spiritual (true) family. The movie scores pretty well on the female front with Locke, Tessa Richarde (Mitzi Fritts) and Cha Cha Sandoval-McMahon, aka Tanya Russell (Doris Duke). There’s an interesting sequence involving Billy acquiescing to the posturing Sheriff where you have to read between the lines. It was a matter of stroking the Sheriff's ego and letting him believe what he wanted to believe in order to achieve what Billy wanted. Let the cop have his dreamworld, Billy seems to think. This principle is taught in the now-ancient (but still relevant) hit book "How to Win Friends and Influence People": Human beings in general, and especially authority figures, WANT to feel important and respected; it's a basic human desire. When pulled over, too many people needlessly argue with the officer and treat him/her with disrespect, which inevitably lands them an expensive ticket or worse. A little bit of humility & respect (reasonable kowtowing) saves a lot of unnecessary hassles and helps acquire what you want. Sometimes it's wise to eat humble pie; the gains are worth it. The film runs 1 hour, 56 minutes, and was shot in the Boise, Idaho, area, but also Ontario, Oregon. GRADE: A-
A fairly triumphant circus flick. 'Bronco Billy' is enjoyably paced and features good onscreen talent, as we see Clint Eastwood continuing his work with many familiar faces from his other films - including Sondra Locke, Geoffrey Lewis and Bill McKinney; shame about the ill-fitting casting of Dan Vadis and Sierra Pecheur, mind. Naturally it isn't the perfect film, given the aforementioned and the nosedive of Locke's character from being strong-minded to being a cliché dainty love interest, but it succeeds in making its story gain a bit of feeling. It also feels a tiny bit of a different role for Eastwood, given his character is quite caring - as opposed to the usual self-indulged roles, which he does very well of course. It kinda gives me 'Toby Tyler' vibes, though this 1980 production is most definitely better than that average 1960 Disney release.
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