Bronco Billy

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

If you’re like “Bronco” Billy McCoy (Clint Eastwood) and you want a chance to savor the atmosphere of the wild west, then there’s only one place you can go. Billy runs a traveling old west show complete with sharpshooting, Indians, and even some old fashioned cattle ropin’, in short everything you could want from such a show. Billy and his friends don’t do this show for the money, but rather because they love the western lifestyle and love to entertain the customers. With such an action packed show you’d imagine they’d be lining up to watch, but in fact business has been very slow. In fact Billy and his crew haven’t gotten a proper paycheck in over six months, but they continue to press on since they love what they do. When Billy meets an abandon beautiful woman with attitude, Antoinette (Sondra Locke) he sees the chance to bring in more customers through his new assistant. But it seems like Billy’s crew can’t catch a break as the attendance drops even more, despite the new and gorgeous talent. Can the crew manage to turn things around before they are forced to close down the show?

Of all the titles in Warner’s Clint Eastwood Collection, this one stands as the sole new release and I am pleased it was chosen for inclusion. While I like many Eastwood movies, this one is among my favorites because of the storyline and humor involved. I think the idea of a traveling wild west show is a cool premise for a movie and this movie makes sure it lives up to that potential. Eastwood is solid as the leader of the troupe and he is backed up a terrific supporting cast, including the great Scatman Crothers. While Eastwood plays the usual tough guy role we’re used to, he also blends in some nice sensitive flairs here and there to make the character more human. As good as the single performances are, the character interaction is even better and serves as the true heart of this film. To watch Eastwood’s character and his workers argue over pay is classic and there are many more sequences that are equally as entertaining. Of course, some romance is thrown in also and the chemistry present there is also impressive. I recommend this release as a rental to fans of Eastwood, but the bare bones disc doesn’t offer much in terms of overall value.

This film was directed by Clint Eastwood, who has garnered much acclaim over the years as both an actor and a director. This film is a unique on in my eyes as it stays within the usual western genre, but then shows flashes of comedy. As a director Eastwood delivers a solid movie in all respects, but never shows much flash or innovation. He uses simple techniques and basic compositions throughout the movie, but this never seems to hamper the film at any time. This simple style works in this movie, but in the future it doesn’t always work as well for him. If you want to see more of Eastwood’s movies as a director I recommend Unforgiven, The Outlaw Josey Wales, A Perfect World, and Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil. As an actor Eastwood (In The Line Of Fire, Escape From Alcatraz) seems to choose very similar roles, but this has served him well over the years. While I would like to see him branch out a little more, he has a good thing going so why should he? The support cast in this film is terrific and includes Geoffrey Lewis (Fletch Lives, The Lawnmower Man), Sondra Locke (Sudden Impact, The Gauntlet), Scatman Crothers (The Shining, Zapped!), and Sam Bottoms (Apocalypse Now, The Last Picture Show).

Video: How does it look?

Bronco Billy is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame version included on the disc’s flip side. This is a nice transfer to be sure, but some small problems still emerge. The main trouble concerns the source print, which shows some grain and also a few wear signs from time to time. This isn’t a serious problem by any means, but it lowers the score and is worth mentioning. The colors seem bright and natural, with no smears and flesh tones look normal at all times. Contrast looks smooth also, with high detail level and deep, complex shadows.

Audio: How does it sound?

This film doesn’t have much audio power, so the included stereo surround is more than adequate. The music seems to fit the film well and this mix makes it sound full and immersive. The sound effects usually remain reserved, but some surround use is evident though not much. This isn’t a powerful mix to be sure, but since the material doesn’t need it to be I won’t complain much. The dialogue sounds very good here and has a nice crisp ring to it, with no volume problems I could detect.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This contains a talent file for Clint Eastwood and that’s all.

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