Combustible Celluloid
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With: Cliff Robertson, Robert Duvall, Luke Askew, R.G. Armstrong, Dana Elcar, Donald Moffat, John Pearce, Matt Clark, Wayne Sutherlin, Robert H. Harris, Jack Manning, Elisha Cook Jr., Royal Dano, Mary-Robin Redd, William Callaway, Valda Hansen
Written by: Philip Kaufman
Directed by: Philip Kaufman
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 91
Date: 06/14/1972

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Younger Us

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Philip Kaufman's first Hollywood feature after a pair of low-budget underground films, The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid is less artistic and less psychological than other Westerns of its time; it seems more inspired by M*A*S*H, complete with a comical baseball game as its centerpiece (as well as a would-be drug sequence that somehow cuts short). It builds up to the title "raid," which, without giving anything away, does not go as planned and is accompanied by the unholy squeal of a calliope with a dead man slouched over its keys. Cliff Robertson plays gang leader Cole Younger, rather fascinated by new forms of technology, from a mechanical boxing game to a trackless train. ("Ain't that wonderment," he says frequently.) Robert Duvall is a twitchy, half-mad Jesse James, who pays the rent for a little old lady and her collection of "children" (dolls), but kills the landlord who was about to evict her. This is a rambunctious movie, undisciplined and a little sluggish, but trying hard to have a good time (you can't fault it for that). R.G. Armstrong plays Clell Miller, who leaves behind his mule farm and his wife to join the boys, and the great Elisha Cook Jr. plays a bank man. Paul Frees provides the voiceover narration.

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