Richard Lyons had some bad luck with MGM. He produced two first-rate westerns, and the studio had no idea what to do with them. The first was cult movie RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY and the second was this contemporary cowboy comedy that should have had much greater success than it did.
Unfortunately, nobody at MGM thought much about the tale of two grizzled cowboys trying to eke their way through life, and it was tacked on to the bottom of a double bill with the deplorable GET YOURSELF A COLLEGE GIRL as the top half of the entry. That picture starred Mary Ann Mobley, Nancy
Sinatra, and Chad Everett, and almost destroyed several careers. Under Kennedy's expert hand (working from his own adaptation of the book by Max Evans), this is a charmer all the way. Fonda and Ford are a pair of ancient cowhands who travel the area around Sedona, Arizona. They dream of making
enough money busting broncos to retire, open a bar in some exotic location like Tahiti, and watch the rest of the world go by. It will never happen because they are a little too given to blowing all their money on fast women, slow horses, and good booze when they're done working. Right now they
are in the employ of skinflint Wills, who gives them seven dollars for every horse they can break. They live in a drafty cabin and are to spend the winter rounding up the strays. Wills has a roan named "Ol' Fooler" that no one has been able to break, and they spend the cold months vainly
attempting to do the job. Buchanan is a local moonshiner with two daughters, Freeman and Freeman. They buy the horse in exchange for whiskey, but when Buchanan discovers that the horse is a drunk who loves to eat the corn mash that makes the liquor, the moonshiner returns him. Fonda and Ford
accept the horse as partial payment from Wills and think they can enter him in a rodeo as an unbreakable steed. Before the rodeo, Fonda and Ford meet Vegas strippers Holiday and Langdon and go for a nude swim in the state fish hatchery. At the rodeo the horse throws everyone, and the boys make a
bundle on bets. Then the animal is hurt and the local vet says it will have to be destroyed. Neither one can bring himself to shoot the animal, who suddenly wakes up when he sees the gun. He wasn't hurt, just drunk from the corn mash. The horse begins to wreck the stable by bucking. It's soon a
shambles and Fonda and Ford have to cough up all their winnings to pay for the damage. With no money and only this mean horse as an asset, it's back to work for Wills again and another winter of discontent. Filmed in the Coconino Forest of Arizona, funny and fast-moving, with plenty of action and
a little sex, THE ROUNDERS deserved far better treatment from the distributors. Real-life rodeo star Casey Tibbs makes an appearance.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Richard Lyons had some bad luck with MGM. He produced two first-rate westerns, and the studio had no idea what to do with them. The first was cult movie RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY and the second was this contemporary cowboy comedy that should have had much grea… (more)