Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here


Drama / Western

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 83%
IMDb Rating 6.4 10 2,384


Downloaded 8,888 times
March 31, 2019


John Vernon as Jonathan Stryker
Katharine Ross as Jennifer Montgomery
Robert Blake as Chuck
Robert Redford as Ike the Horse
812.82 MB
23.976 fps
98 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by richards1052 8 / 10 / 10

Fascinating film!

I guess the cable companies have rediscovered this film in light of Robert Blake's legal woes. And I'm glad they did. It's an extraordinary example of filmmaking. Though not w/o its share of mistakes & weaknesses, they are all honestly come by. The film covers several genres & comments upon them in interesting ways: it is a Western w. conventional themes (turned upside down & inside out) of Indian savages vs. white civilizers; it is a historical drama that chronicles the rise to power of the industry elites in late 19th century CA. (illustrated in the subplot of Pres. Taft's visit to the Riverside Inn). While this is a Western, it might be better termed an anti Western. Every character (including Blake's Indian) is weak, vacillating & morally changeable, which makes for a wonderfully complex tale. Blakes dialogue gives us the film's title: "Well, at least they'll know that Willie Boy was here." He says this in responding to Katherine Ross' comment asking why he is willing to keep running, even though the whites will eventually trap & kill him. This scene conveys the film's elegaic tone about the death of the "romantic" West & the rise of the homogenized, white, industrial CA. that would arise in the 20th century. Willie is compelled to stand up for his own individuality even though in actuality few will mourn his passing & even fewer remember that "he was here." But Polonsky, the filmmaker, tells us that someone will indeed remember Willie beyond those tracking him down & exterminating him: Polonsky himself & the viewers of the film. Really cool stuff! Another powerful layer of history is Abraham Polonsky's involvement. As a Hollywood 10 member, the script seems to comment indirectly on the Hollywood Blacklist era. Blake the hounded Indian is much like the renegades of the Hollywood 10. Willie Boy tries to stand up for the principle of honor & freedom in the face of insurmountable social odds. Yet, he is never seen as a romanticized or one sided character. Even Willie Boy is pig headed, monomaniacal and self-destructive. I think Blake does a great job in this role. It makes you remember how good he could be in film roles (remember "In Cold Blood?") before "Baretta" came along. And it makes you weep for his recent descent into hell & wonder at what might have been if his life & career had taken diff. turns. I didn't mind Katherine Ross as much as some viewers. She was much less bothersome & stereotypical than in some of her other roles ("The Graduate" & "Butch Cassidy"). During the film I was actually realizing how much I liked her in her role which surprised me. I highly recommend this film.

Reviewed by shepardjessica 7 / 10 / 10

R. Blake & R. Redford in Top Form!

This under-rated gem of an anti-Western deserved much better than it got. Abrahom Polonsky's return to film-making was swept under the carpet, as are so many heartfelt, thoughtful films (even in 1969). Robert Blake, with the exception of In Cold Blood and Electra Glide in Blue was never more determined or intense as Willie. Redford gives a subtle and layered performance. Katharine Ross is gorgeous but doesn't look like a Native American (her eyes are bluer than Paul Newman's). An 8 out of 10. Best performance = Robert Blake with able support from Barry Sullivan, Susan Clark, and Charles McGraw. I'm sure this flick must have it's own cult following by now. If not, it should.

Reviewed by theowinthrop 7 / 10 / 10

Uneven but interesting tragic western

This was one of the westerns made in the 1960s and 1970s, including Ford's CHEYENNE AUTUMN and LITTLE BIG MAN which presented the westward expansion as the disaster it was to the Native Americans. Ford's film concentrated to the attempt of an entire tribe to flee to Canada to avoid being cooped up on a reservation. LITTLE BIG MAN looked at the long series of insults and thefts suffered by the Native Americans leading up to the Battle of the Little Big Horn (their great victory over the politically ambitious Custer - in this film - and the point where their doom got sealed). Those films occur in 1876 - 77. TELL THEM WILLY BOY WAS HERE occurs some three decades later (1909), and shows the hopelessness of their situation. The screenplay is not quite even. It is notable that the author of the original novel, Harry Lawton - who died a few weeks ago - was writing the script with director Abraham Polonsky. This may explain the uneven handling. Polonsky, who was a victim of the Hollywood Blacklist, was notable for his radical point of view (best shown in his 1947 John Garfield film FORCE OF EVIL). But he was an expert screenplay writer, and his view of the rights of Native Americans would be similar to those of Lawton. According to Lawton's obituaries he remained committed to Native American rights and culture throughout his life. Willy Boy (Robert Blake) kills a man who was bigoted and goaded him. He is pursued by a posse led by Robert Redford, which is determined to get the young man because of his background. Redford, a bit more fair minded, wants to just catch him to bring him to trial, but one gets the impression as the film continues how hopeless this hope is. It would be sort of like Henry Fonda being in charge of the lynch mob in THE OX-BOW INCIDENT to try to control their passions (and probably as unsuccessful). To confuse matters, the killing takes place near an inn that newly elected President William Howard Taft is visiting on a political trip. Taft's presence in the locale makes the newspaper reporters wonder if they are getting the full facts from the sheriff. Why so much intense searching for this Indian? Is it (as they are told) that he killed a local man and he is quite adept at hiding in the deserts of Utah? Or, is he part of a massive conspiracy of Indians planning to kill Taft? To us, knowing the actual incident, it seems ridiculous, but keep in mind that since 1865 three U.S. Presidents were assassinated for political reasons, the last (McKinley) in 1901. Also, while thirty three years since Little Big Horn, and nineteen since Wounded Knee, the possibility of an Indian uprising was not hard to dismiss (the great chief Geronimo died in 1905, shortly after attending Theodore Roosevelt's inauguration - we were that close in time to the period when he was on the warpath). The film goes to it's tragic conclusion - a long, hard chase to the death of a representative of a defeated people. But the final victory is Blake's. In the end Willy Boy becomes the legend of the Native American who would not surrender.

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