Spendid period piece about an endurance horse race. The plot is not unlike THE GREAT RACE or THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES in that a disparate group is assembled, lots of secondary stories are opened, and the race begins. The film is very episodic rather than having a driving force behind it. Brooks writes and directs well, but there are very few people who can do both on the same picture; here it's the writing that fails. There is nothing to the story that we haven't seen before. The participants gather, we learn too little about them and their motivations for running this incredible race on horseback, the race begins, things happen. BITE THE BULLET looks good and sounds good, it was nominated for Best Sound, and the music by North was good enough to get an Oscar nomination. The film ranks head (if not shoulders) over many other westerns. It offers some excellent performances, crisp direction, and overall professionalism of the entire cast and crew. What keeps it from being a great western (like FORT APACHE or HIGH NOON) is that the audience is seldom involved in the lives of the riders other than in a peripheral sense. If you're watching a horse race and you don't have a bet down or care much about who wins, then a horse race is a mighty dull way to spend two minutes...or 131 minutes.