Gregory Peck is an aging Scottish outlaw, and Desi Arnaz Jr is his “breed” (as Jack Warden’s racist sheriff refers to him) partner. Warden captures Arnaz, but Peck, who could have been free and clear with all the stolen money, rescues him, much to Warden’s puzzlement. Peck is wounded in the getaway, however, and as the two friends are pursued by the law across a barren landscape (with Israel playing the role of the American West), the younger, less-experienced man must take on the responsibility of saving both their lives.
Though directed by Ted Kotcheff (The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, First Blood, Fun with Dick and Jane), the film is co-produced by fellow Canadian Norman Jewison (The Hurricane, Fiddler on the Roof, In the Heat of the Night). Given Jewison’s involvement, it comes as no real surprise that there is considerable focus in the film on social issues – race relations in this case. So it does come across as a little odd, even in 1974, for a film with these particular concerns to have one of its leads playing a race that is not his. Then again, both our heroes are required to inhabit other ethnicities, which means we have to get through Peck’s attempt at a Scottish accent. He may not be Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but he ain’t Meryl Streep either, can ya ken what I mean while ya sip yorrr wee dram? So there are some disconnects here that tend to take one out of the movie.
The pace, meanwhile, is deliberate, which makes the film contemplative if it works for you, or dull if it doesn’t. In any event, viewers should not go in expecting non-stop action. However, the scene where Peck is wounded, essentially involving early sniper fire, is very suspenseful, if a bit hard to credit. And Kotcheff uses the landscape very well, turning it into a fully fledged antagonist itself.
In the final analysis, then, this MGM Limited Collection release is an interesting curiosity, but not much more than that.