Will Penny

The brute in every man was also in him... And the love and the violence!

Western Romance
110 min     6.44     1967     USA


Will Penny, an aging cowpoke, takes a job on a ranch which requires him to ride the line of the property looking for trespassers or, worse, squatters. He finds that his cabin in the high mountains has been appropriated by a woman whose guide to Oregon has deserted her and her son. Too ashamed to kick mother and child out just as the bitter winter of the mountains sets in, he agrees to share the cabin until the spring thaw. But it isn't just the snow that slowly thaws; the lonely man and woman soon forget their mutual hostility and start developing a deep love for one another.


Wuchak wrote:
**_Realistic Western about an Aging Cowboy's Last Chance at Love & Family_** Charlton Heston stars as loner Will Penny, an aging cowboy who takes a winter job riding line on a vast ranch. He runs afoul of a family of psychotic rawhiders while discovering love and a sense of family for the first time in his nigh fifty years of life. "Will Penny" (1967) gives the viewer a good peek at what it must have been like to be a cowboy out West in the late 1800s. Needless to say, the lifestyle is anything but glamorous. Most everything works great here: locations, cast, story, writing, etc. With three exceptions: The score is boring & dated. In the 60s there were numerous great Western scores that stood the test of time ("Duel at Diablo," "Bandolero!," "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," "MacKenna's Gold" and "The Magnificent Seven," to name a few), but the score to "Penny" is a badly-aged dud. Yet it DOES fit the film's theme. Also, the villains are somewhat contrived. Donald Pleasence is impressive as the over-the-top psycho patriarch of the rawhiding family and Bruce Dern is always reliable as a villain, but -- I don't know -- this whole side plot just seems tacked on to supply action and menace to a story that might have been better without it. The heart of the story is Penny's discovery of love & family. It's implied in the story that he was an orphan as a child and simply fell into the loner cowboy lifestyle to survive. He has never known true love or had a real sense of family. Before meeting Joan Hackett's character, his experiences with women were limited to shallow hook-ups with prostitutes. Penny learns he has a knack for fatherhood and likes it. The boy clearly looks up to him and loves him. It's almost as if God sees Penny's noble character through all the grime and gruff cowboy exterior and throws him a pot of gold in the form of the love of Catherine and her boy. Will he take advantage of this opportunity of happiness and fulfillment, despite the risks? Will he even recognize it as an opportunity? Unfortunately, the ending leaves a sour taste. So I detract points for the pizazz-less score, the forced villain subplot and the ending. Otherwise this is a worthwhile Western, similar to "Monte Walsh" with Lee Marvin and Jack Palance that debuted a few years later. The film runs 1 Hour, 50 minutes, and was shot in Bishop & Inyo County, California. GRADE: B