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Last Stand at Saber River Reviews

In this ardent adult Western based on an Elmore Leonard novel, the Civil War is winding down while the enmity between the blue and the grey continues to burn white hot. Ronald M. Cohen captures the bitter tone of Leonard’s pared-down prose and the strong cast . Confederate war hero Paul Cable (Tom Selleck) returns to his father-in-law’s Texas home to find that his wife, Martha (Suzy Amis), was told he was dead and that their daughter failed to survive infancy. Cable wants to put the war behind him and shrinks from the praise heaped on him by Rebel sympathizers like Edward Janroe (David Dukes), a storekeeper with a sideline in gun-running. With Martha and their two surviving children, Cable heads for the Arizona homestead he bought before the war. Once there he gives a wide berth to Yankee cattlemen like Duane (David Carradine) and Vern Kidston (Keith Carradine); Cable, after all, fought for the losing side. When he finds squatters hired by the Kidstons on his land, Cable ejects them and returns the steers to his neighbors. Meanwhile, Janroe is stockpiling arms from Mexico in preparation for a new assault on Union forces. Janroe refuses to accept Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, but the news spurs him to shoot Duane in cold blood — he figures people will blame Cable because of the bad blood between them and actively tries to bait Cable into a showdown with Vernon. Former Malborough man Selleck rides tall in the saddle in this philosophical horse opera, while director Dick Lowry rings every drop of pessimism out of Leonard's cynical portrait of reflexive frontier violence.