[box cover]

The Villain

Kirk Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Ann-Margret in one movie? How many times did you wonder if you'd ever see this power trio? Maybe in a nightmare, one that you breathlessly explain to an un-amused friend the next morning: "Kirk Douglas is riding around on a horse dressed like Jack Palance's character in Shane and suddenly, Arnold Schwarzenegger appears in this weird cowboy Tom O' Finland-looking get-up. He's running around with a busty Ann-Margaret, who keeps coming on to him but he's not interested... and Paul Lynde is this nervous Indian... and sweet Jesus, the horrifying Ruth Buzzi...." You get the picture. The Villain (1979), directed by Hal Needham (who made, compared to this, the infinitely more charming Smokey and the Bandit), is a western comedy that owes a lot to cartoons (The Roadrunner in particular). And though that may sound promising, the film is a dud, its talent wasted by horribly timed comedy that's painful to watch. The story, if you must know, has the beautiful Charming Jones (Ann-Margret) sent to secure a loan for her father (Strother Martin). Her daddy's friend (and "friend" should be put in quotes if we want to assume anything by the tight blue costume), named Handsome Stranger (the young, weird-looking Schwarzenegger), meets her at the train station to squire her safely with the money towards daddy's prospective gold mine. Deciding to travel by wagon, problems ensue — chiefly one "Cactus Jack" Slater (a very cool-looking Douglas), who's been hired to rob the travelers. He's inept, but he mixes it up, aided by a few comics who've already gasped their last breaths of comedic air long ago (Center Square Lynde, The Electric Company's Buzzi). Ugh. This is just not any fun. The Villain is one of those examples of when the '70s ran into the '80s with glaring, dreary consequences. One just gets the feeling that people were seriously confused about what the hell was going on (hence the legendary Douglas even deciding to make this film). We know one thing: Ruth Buzzi was never funny. Columbia TriStar's DVD release of The Villain presents an adequate full-frame transfer (1.33:1) of this unpleasant but colorful picture, with audio in monaural Dolby Digital 2.0. Supplements include subtitles and trailers for Cat Ballou, Buck and the Preacher, and The Quick and the Dead. Keep-case.
—Kim Morgan



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