Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday (1976)

An idiotic farce set in the Old West, this embarrassing misfire stars two of cinema’s great offscreen drunkards, Lee Marvin and Oliver Reed. Yet while Marvin’s role as a frontier schemer is in the vicinity of his Oscar-winning Cat Ballou wheelhouse, Englishman Reed is embarrassingly miscast as an inebriated Indian, mugging his way through a cringe-inducing performance complete with grotesque body makeup. The overstuffed storyline involves con men Sam (Marvin), Joe (Reed), and Billy (Strother Martin) trying to strong-arm money out of their former partner in crime, Jack (Robert Culp), who hid his criminal past to begin a career in politics, but of course Sam, Joe, and Billy are too stupid to properly manipulate their slick confrere. Hardy-har. For no particular reason, Joe kidnaps a bevy of whores from the titular cathouse, including one he names Thursday (Kay Lenz), and for no particular reason, she falls for the decades-older Sam. The lecherous nonsense eventually leads to a protracted chase scene, with the heroes driving a jalopy across the desert while—oh, who cares? This is one of those “madcap” comedies in the vein of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), with incessant slapstick noise thrown at the audience instead of actual jokes; virtually everyone gets punched in the face at least once, even Elizabeth Ashley, who plays Culps wife. So rather than being amusing, The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday provides the painful experience of watching actors who deserve better marking time in drivel. One hopes Marvin and Reed at least had fun imbibing their paychecks. (Available as part of the MGM Limited Collection on

The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday: LAME

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