The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (1969) Poster

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One You Can't Go Wrong With
bkoganbing1 July 2004
Burt Kennedy during the late 1960s seemed to take over the western genre with a cluster of good comedic films using some of Hollywood's best. but aging male stars. The Good Guys and the Bad Guys is a prime example of his work which never disappoints.

Robert Mitchum as an aging and then ex-Marshal and George Kennedy,an outlaw adversary of Mitchum's from the old days join forces to outwit and capture a gang of young punks that the aging Kennedy has been riding with. Since they're on the screen for most of the story together, the chemistry has to be perfect with them for the picture to work and it is.

Some Hollywood veterans also round out the cast. Marie Windsor for once is a good girl as a saloon owner with a heart of gold. Douglas Fowley plays a grizzled old timer in the best Gabby Hayes tradition. They stand out as does David Carradine as the leader of the young outlaws.

However in the scenes he's in, Martin Balsam as the town mayor steals the film. He had to be the model that Mel Brooks used for Harvey Korman's portrayal of Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles.

And in the best 50s western tradition we have Glenn Yarborough singing intermittently The Ballad of Marshal Flagg in the great tradition of Frankie Laine. Personally though Yarborough does a good job, I think they should have utilized Robert Mitchum for that also.

The then Governor of New Mexico, David Cargo, makes a bit appearance at the end of the film as a reporter. Cargo, tried very hard to get the Hollywood Studios to use New Mexico for filming. I suppose this bit was one of the perks of office.

It's rollicking good entertainment, Burt Kennedy at his best.
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Spoof Western with magnificent duo starring and great lots of fun
ma-cortes28 February 2006
The film talks about a semi-retired sheriff (Robert Mitchum) who finds his nemesis , an old outlaw (George Kennedy) . He is abandoned by his band (leaders are David Carradine and John Davis Chandler) of cutthroats for being too old to execute a bank-heist that the gang is planning . Demystified Western was one of a group of much-imitated which changed the concept of their particular genre each bent on disproving a popular myth , yet tinged with humor , spoof and combining anti-heroes , replacing cars and horses ; in addition , the inevitable decadence of protagonists . The formula deals to enhance the comic observations of the western originated on the decade of the 60s by the following filmmakers : Andrew McLagen and Burt Kennedy , fine director of this movie .

Burt Kennedy directed similar Western with comedy such as :¨Support your local gunfighter¨ (one of the best spoof Western) , ¨Support your local sheriff¨ (his highpoint) , ¨Dirty Dingus Mcgee¨ and ¨War Wagon¨ . The picture is wonderfully amused and enjoyable with Robert Mitchum as a tough but dreary sheriff with his Maverick image who uses brains as well as brawny and guns . He cleaned a lawless town in his own highly individual way but he is fired by the Mayor , rightly played by Martin Balsam . Mitchum in one of the best interpretations was much stronger actor when being something older than a straightforward hero . George Kennedy makes a robustly likable characterization . Stars have a splendid fight aboard a train towards the end ; furthermore , it contains excellent action sequences , as well as the pursuits and derailing train . Ronald Cohen's screenplay besides having more than its fair scraps of funny lines , throws up rich characters . Thus , Douglas Fowley as the old brawler likeness Walter Brennan (Support you local..) clearly relishing his comic relief . John Davis Chandler , as always, plays a sadist gunfighter. There appears uncredited Christopher Mitchum , Robert's son , along with Buddy Hackett . Film exteriors were shot in New Mexico by cameraman Harry Stradling who reflects stunningly the marvelous landscapes . Jolly and agreeable musical score by William Lava and songs by Ned Washington. The motion picture was well directed by Burt Kennedy .
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Easy goin' western with some funny scenes
loupgarou-219 January 2001
All right,I admit it,I'm a sucker for Westerns. I grew up on them and I still watch every new one I can find. That said, this is a somewhat above average western with some pretty funny moments. Robert Mitchum spoof his tough guy image as the marshall who insists that bad guy George Kennedy,an over the hill outlaw, is still a dangerous villain. For his troubles he gets a surprise retirement party. Mitchum and Kennedy then team together to upstage the young whippersnapper bad guys. All in all, a fun "buddy" western, I think most western movie lovers will get a chuckle from this film
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good western
KyleFurr216 September 2005
This movie was directed by Burt Kennedy, who also directed another great western in 65 called The Rounders, that had Henry Fonda and Glenn Ford. This one is sort of different but they both had some comedy in them. This one stars Robert Mitchum as an old sheriff who is retired against his wishes by the mayor, played by Martin Balsam, who only cares about the election coming up. George Kennedy plays an outlaw who used to big in his day but now is the third wheel in a gang run by David Carradine. Both Mitchum and Kennedy, even though they used to be enemies, sort of team up together to stop Carradine from robbing the train even though they don't have too. This movie came out in 1969 the same year as The Wild Bunch, which Mitchum turned down but this movie is closer to Peckenpah's earlier film Ride The High Country.
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Good Mitchum western
kenandraf5 August 2001
Better than average fare with a good train chase sequence.Nothing wrong done in this movie but nothing great either.This movie will please most western fans.A better screenplay would have really taken it to a better level.Great performance by David Carradine which helped him in his carreer.....
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The Good Clichés and the Bad Clichés
Mee43123 October 2005
For those who like western's, this one has it all. For those who don't, the same applies.

The ageing Marshal teams up with the ageing bandit to oust the bad young guys, hopelessly out-numbered of course. Naturally with age comes experience and the bad guys are defeated as the (ex) Marshal (played brilliantly by Mitchum) walks into a hail of pistol fire flanked by his new(ish) best friend (Big John Makay- aka George Kennedy)and dispenses justice with both barrels.

The likable old drunk is shot in the back by one of the bad guys, the whores aren't shown as harlots, the mayor gets it anywhere he can and the new Marshal is stupid. Hardly surprising.

Oh, and of course, there's a love interest for the Marshal- and a cute little blonde boy who looks to Mitchum as a substitute father. There's an almost hilarious train sequence and a train chase with a difference. For those women who find westerns aren't really their thing but are made to watch them by boyfriends, this one has a big plus: Robert Mitchum, for all that he is playing a character who is supposed to be past it looks pretty fine. Likable enough, but don't take it too seriously- its not meant to be.
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Forced retirement!!
elo-equipamentos15 August 2018
The late sixties had many comic westerns after Cat Ballou's success,so this carry on thus walking in this path,the picture has two generation of old west,in fact the picture is set place in turn of the century and two leading roles Robert Mitchum and George Kennedy both already an older men belonged to the past,they are unfashionable couple guys,the progress's winds aren't appreciated to them,easy to watch,plenty of humour, it's worth to see mainly by a funny and drunk old man called Grundy who lives in the hills nearby of the town.the unforgetable James W. Fowley who used to play those friendly characters that hates take a shower who prefer living alone in a little cabin,just amazing!!!


First watch: 1981 / How many: 3 / Source: TV-DVD-R / Rating: 7.25
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For Those Who Like To Have Fun!
JohnMcClane8811 March 2006
If your westerns Must be more along the lines of The Unforgiving or High Plains Drifter then The Good Guys and the Bad Guys is not for you.

But if you Love westerns like Support Your Local Sheriff and Silverado then you will love this movie!

The Good Guys and the Bad Guys is just plain old Fun! Robert Mitchum and George Kennedy are great together. Martin Balsam's Mayor is like an earlier version of Mel Brook's The Governor in Blazing Saddles.

Why the don't make westerns like this anymore is beyond me. But then again why they don't make westerns at all is really beyond me.

Whenever I come across this movie on TV I stop to watch it. You cant go wrong with The Good Guys and the Bad Guys :) .
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A comic western enhanced by the two male leads-Mitchum and Kennedy
Mickey-29 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys", released in 1969 gave two wily screen veterans, Robert Mitchum and George Kennedy, a chance to have some fun in a western that pokes a lot of fun at itself and the times that it was portraying. It's the turn of the century and the local town marshal, James Flagg, played by Mitchum, is still taking himself seriously as the town marshal, even though the town sees him as a reminder of the unpleasant past, and not much of a positive image for the town's future. Flagg does sense that an upcoming robbery could occur, as he hears that a long-time adversary, Big John McKay, played by Kennedy, is in the area and heading up a gang of young outlaws. Mitchum wants to get a posse together, but the town gets him a retirement party, instead, and accepts a sit-back and wait attitude. Mitchum goes after the gang on his own, manages to capture McKay (Kennedy), but finds that the young band was going to oust McKay anyway, characterizing him as too old and too slow to be of any use. Kennedy decides to help the marshal capture the gang, thus he becomes one of the good guys, and the two take out after the bad guys.

Director Burt Kennedy always seemed to produce at least one scene that would be pure slapstick. This was no exception, as one will see from viewing the wild chase scene at the end of the film. Glenn Yarbarough, former lead singer of the folk group, The Limelighters, has a nice rendition of a tune that sets the stage for Marshal Flagg. To the viewer, enjoy, and don't expect this film to get serious, it was made simply for relaxation and fun.
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Not many old time railroads left
SimonJack6 February 2014
Robert Mitchum and George Kennedy must have had fun making this movie. They have a good supporting cast. "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys" is an enjoyable film, a mix of comedy and Western that doesn't quite fit solidly into either genre. The time was the turn of the 20th Century, when Western towns were "growing" up. Some held onto their frontier image, while others couldn't shake the past fast enough and become modern. That's the setting for the film and much of its comedy, and the two lead characters are smack dab in the middle of the changing times.

Others have described the plot and background. What stand out to me are the train scenes and the scenery itself. This isn't a dust and sagebrush Western as were so many set in Monument Valley, AZ. This was shot in mountain and forest country. That means the Rocky Mountains. The DVD with the film I watched also had a short, "The Good Guy from Chama." It showed us the town of Chama, NM, where much of the movie was shot.

The train scenes were on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, a 64- mile long narrow gage line that runs between Chama, NM and Antonito, CO. The line was built by the Denver and Rio Grande RR in 1880-81, and is the highest operating railway today – reaching 10,015 feet at Cumbres Pass. It's a national historical landmark, and tourists can ride it from late May to mid-October. I recommend the half-day full length trip. You'll see the same scenery that's in the movie, and more, including tunnels, bridges and trestles. Some other movies that were made with scenes from the C&T Scenic Railroad were "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989) and "Wyatt Earp" (1994).

Few old-time railroad lines still exist in the U.S. So, when I get a chance in my travels, I like to ride the historic railways of the past. Some other scenic rails you might enjoy are the Durango to Silverton line in Colorado, the St. George's short line in Colorado, and the White Pass and Yukon RR from Skagway, AK, to Carcross, Yukon Territory. One can do the latter as a day-trip that many Alaskan cruises offer.
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Rollicking western, mostly comic
Marlburian19 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It's an enjoyable film despite being a curious mix, with the generally humorous tone being jolted by the vicious killing of the "grizzled old coot", a stock Western character here played by Douglas Fowley in a far less irritating manner than Walter Brennan or George "Gabby" Hayes. Likewise the finale with its Keystones-Cops style chase ends with a vicious gunfight.

Talking of grizzled characters, the film makes great play of its two main protagonists 'being over the hill', but neither Robert Mitchum nor George Kennedy look past it, even if stinting do stand in for them during the rougher scenes; the former was in his early fifties, the latter in his mid-forties when the film was made. Usually Hollywood casts the other way, with middle-aged actors fighting and loving in roles of people at least ten years younger. The elegiac sentiment of men having to cope with modernisation and younger rivals has been better conveyed by Richard Widmark and supporting cast in "Once upon a Texas Train", Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott in "Ride the High Country" and John Wayne in "The Shootist".

Martin Balsam does very well as the rascally, ambitious mayor and there's a fine old Western train to gladden the heart of any rail enthusiast. It's even transporting a gleaming new fire engine, but I couldn't work out how Kennedy got it to emit an instant high-pressure gush of water to repel his assailants.

It's good to see John Carradine in a light-hearted role, but as the gang leader his son David is upstaged by the vicious killer played by John Davis Chandler.
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Not enough to recommend it, but not a bad time-passer.
MartinHafer29 August 2012
There really isn't much new to "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys" to distinguish it from dozens of other westerns. In other words, it's made up of a lot of very, very familiar story elements--story elements that were used better in previous films. You get a lot of films like "High Noon" and "Rio Lobo"--where it's just a lone sheriff or a sheriff and a friend trying to fend off an evil gang. The only big difference is that the film is supposed to be a comedy....though most of it really isn't all that funny. The only reason you might want to see this is Robert Mitchum (who is watchable in anything), but he's certainly done better westerns.

The film begins with the Marshall (Mitchum) telling the Mayor (Martin Balsam) that a gang of bandits is coming to town to rob them. However, the Mayor doesn't seem the least bit concerned--after all, it's the 20th century and the age of train robbers is in the distant past. In fact, to shut up the Marshall, they decide to retire him in a big surprise ceremony. But the now ex-Marshall isn't about to just disappear and he intends to stop the bad guys anyway. The problem is that there are just too many. Can Gary Cooper...I mean, John, I mean Robert Mitchum, stop them? Sorry about the confusion--as I said, it sure had a VERY familiar plot and I've seen these folks (and many others) in similar films.

Now I am NOT saying that this is a bad film. But it's definitely recycled and the humor is anything but funny. As for the main stars, Mitchum and George Kennedy, they try their best and aren't bad--it's just ashamed they weren't given more with which to work. A time-passer and nothing more. Oh, and by the way, the music is pretty god-awful--and sounded more like something you might have heard a decade earlier and sounded very out of place for 1969.
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Great Movie - Great Cast
rdic69200121 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This Movie is Great ! Beautiful Tina Louise is in it !!! Tina is a great actress as well as a beautiful woman. Tina was only two years out of Gilligan's Island when this movie was made.She is a wonderful person as well,with her work at the NYC schools.She now has a wonderful daughter Caprice Crain who is a mainstream writer.In this movie she is so beautiful and her performance is outstanding.Tina is perfect for this part.I bought this movie due to Tina's Great performance .And this is a good movie with Robert Mitchum,as I remember Robert from Thunder Road made in western NC.Robert was from my mom and dads generation and remember Robert from lots of movies from the 40s and 50s.
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Progress Posturing.
Spikeopath29 November 2013
The Good Guys and the Bad Guys is directed by Burt Kennedy and written by Dennis Shryack. It stars Robert Mitchum, George Kennedy, Martin Balsam, David Carradine, Tina Louise, Lois Nettleton and Douglas Fowley. A Panavision/Technicolor production, music is by William Lava and cinematography by Harry Stradling Jr.

The town of Progress and Marshal Jim Flagg (Mitchum) learns that old foe John McKay (Kennedy) is about and robbery is soon to follow. However, Jim has difficulty convincing Mayor Wilker (Balsam) that any thing is up, the Mayor apparently more concerned with bed hopping and feathering his own political nest. So when Wilker prematurely retires Jim, sticking one of his lap-dogs into the role of Marshal, Jim sets about doing his own investigation. Pretty soon both Jim and John, one time enemies on either side of the law, find that both of them are out of time with an ever changing West.

Amiable. Burt Kennedy's film doesn't have the best of reputations, seemingly the blend of comedy and drama not teasing out much interest from the Western enthusiasts. It's true enough to say that the main theme, that of the changing West and two men finding themselves relics of the time, is ultimately playing second fiddle to the frivolity, while the finale tips over into over zealous slapstick farcery, yet Kennedy and Shryack imbue the picture with a genuine love of the genre. The director lets the pairing of Mitchum and Kennedy unfurl naturally, whilst also giving Balsam license to have a great time, thus all key performers are ever watchable. Scenic delights await within as Chama and Silverton provide location oomph, and the action quotient is in good supply.

Disposable for sure, but fun while it's on. 6.5/10
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Who Went Which A Way?
zardoz-1312 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Director Burt Kennedy's "The Good Guys & the Bad Guys" lacks the inspired hilarity of his early outing with James Garner in "Support Your Local Sheriff." Mind you, this glossy, lavishly-produced twentieth century spoof of horse operas boasts its share of moments, but the storyline does an inferior job of blending comedy with drama. More often than not, the drama overshadows the comedy. The theme of this outdoors yarn is age versus youth.

Traditionally, westerns espouse conservative values, and one value is respect for your elders. When should somebody be put out to pasture because they are past their prime and no longer useful to society? In Don Siegel's superlative western "Death of a Gunfighter," Richard Widmark played a town-taming lawman who refused to quit his job long after the dust had settled and the townspeople took it upon themselves to finish him off. In "The Good Guys & the Bad Guys," Robert Mitchum plays Marshal James Flagg of Progress. When our hero discovers a plot afoot to rob the town bank of a bundle of money, he alerts smarmy Mayor Randolph Wilker (Martin Balsam of "The Anderson Tapes") that a notorious outlaw, 'Big' John McKay (George Kennedy of "Bandolero!"), is in the territory to rob the Progress Bank.

Initially, Mayor Wilker doesn't know who McKay is until Flagg loses credibility in the mayor's eyes and reveals McKay was an infamous bank robber back in the days of Jesse James. Indeed, everybody thought McKay had been dead for years. Moreover, the fact that Flagg found out about McKay from an old hermit in the hills, Grundy (Douglas Fowley of "Bandido"), weakens his case. Flagg insists the mayor assemble a posse immediately, but the mayor dismisses Flagg's paranoia. Nevertheless, Flagg wants to round-up a posse and ride these varmints down. Wilker is thinking about his next election and doesn't want anything to jeopardize his chances, especially hysteria about a bank robber who is reportedly dead. If Flagg's outcry turned out to be a false alarm, Wilker fears he will lose face and the next election. Consequently, Wilker hosts a retirement party for Flagg, takes his badge, and commemorates his many years of duty with a gold watch.

Despite the advice of his pretty landlord (Lois Nettleton), Flagg sets out to capture McKay. He sneaks up on McKay's camp, scatters their horses, and gets the drop on McKay long enough to collapse under the weight of a gun barrel slammed against his noggin. When he awakens, Flagg learns McKay isn't the head of his old gang anymore. Instead, Waco (David Carradine of "Kill Bill") has assumed dominance of the gang. Waco and the boys recover their horses, and he leaves McKay with Flagg. McKay still wants to accompany his old gang, but Waco tells him to kill Flagg. The gang ride off, and McKay considers killing Flagg long enough for Grundy—who Flagg had tried to dissuade from following him—sneaks up and disarms McKay. When he brings in McKay, Flagg catches the ambitious but concupiscent Wilker humping a beautiful married woman, Mrs. Carmel Flannagan (Tina Louise of "Gilligan's Island") because her husband neglects her. Of course, Wilker is taken completely by surprise at Flagg's sudden appearance. Eventually, Flagg convinces the mayor about the predicament they are in, but not before one of Waco's ruffians, Deuce (John Davis Chandler of "The Outlaw Josey Wales") shoots Grundy in the back in the street. Waco defuses the crisis by helping the idiot who replaced Flagg, Deputy Marshal Howard Boyle (Dick Peabody of "Combat!" where he played 'Little John'), to escort Deuce to jail. They lock Boyle up and wait for the train to arrive.

Now that Mayor Wilker believes Flagg hasn't cried 'wolf,' he tries to figure out a way to keep Waco and his hellions from robbing the bank and destroying his opportunity for re-election. Initially, he wants to accompany Flagg and McKay who plan to board the train and force it to bypass Progress. The running gag at this point is Wilker took away Flagg's badge and he has a difficult time proving he is the local custodian of justice. It happened the first time that he met McKay and got captured by Waco's men and the lack of a badge comes back to haunt him when McKay and he board the train, only to find to conductor with guns aimed at them. Desperately, Flagg explains the situation, but the conductors, one of whom is John Carradine of "The Grapes of Wrath," imprison them in the privy. Naturally, our heroes escape, take over the train, and run it through Progress without stopping at the depot. Waco and his bunch light out after the train while Mayor Wilker finally does assemble a posse.

"The Good Guys & the Bad Guys" is one of those modern-day, turn-of-the-century westerns with automobile, motorcycles, and indoor toilets. Unfortunately, the script is neither agile nor antic enough, and none of the characters is memorable. Martin Balsam is good as the Mayor, but he plays him as an object of scorn. Robert Mitchum acts as if he were in a comedy, while George Kennedy just acts. Moments of sentimentality—the scenes with Lois Nettleton—fall flat because there is no chemistry between her and Flagg.

The period recreation is admirable and the production values, especially Harry Stradling's widescreen cinematography, are up to snuff. The miniatures in the train crash are none-too-convincing, but the scenery is fabulous. There is no equivalent to the finger-in-the-gun barrel from Kennedy's earlier and more successful "Support Your Local Sheriff." Ultimately, "The Good Guys & the Bad Guys" is just fair to middling, though the title ballad of Marshal Flagg sung by Glen Yarbrough is terrific.
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Eminently Forgettable.
rmax3048233 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Burt Kennedy wrote some curiously interesting Westerns for director Otto Boetticher and star Randolph Scott in the 50s. As a director, Kennedy was no better than routine. Of course it's hard to enliven retrograde Westerns like this one, or like John Wayne's late "The Train Robbers." Serious Westerns were declining in popularity because the television schedule was full of them and because by the time this one was released the turmoil was no longer on the plains of Texas but on the streets of New York. Three years later, "Dirty Harry" would make the transfer clear.

The Westerns were ripe for ridicule and they came in for their fair share -- "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "Cat Ballou." "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys", after introducing a theme involving the obsolescence of bandits and gunfighters, dismisses it and turns into an attempt at comic farce. It doesn't work because it's simply not funny enough.

Aging good guy Mitchum and aging bad guy Kennedy -- neither of whom looks particularly aged -- meet and team up to foil a train robbery. The train -- un-held-up -- roars through the station at the town of Progress and the bandits and the entire town race after it, bullets flying, a light-hearted gallop in the musical score. Wagons fall apart and spill their occupants all over. More than one wagon. Several wagons fall apart, wheels flying everywhere. Does anyone think that, in itself, is amusing? Maybe kids who have never seen a movie before. To an adult it looks more like desperation. The locomotive must necessary crash over a cliff taking several empty cars with it.

Not to demean the cast. Both Mitchum and Kennedy do fine in their roles, as well as can be expected. Two of the Carradines have small roles, and it's great to see Marie Windsor again, Queen of Noir. Nois Nettleson does well in a small part too, and she's quite handsome.

But after reducing the broth, there's nothing much to see here folks. Move along now.
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"If you need an extra gun, count me in".
classicsoncall20 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I love it when the title of the film keeps it simple - "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys". Can't make it any plainer than that for a Western. The two main characters keep it simple too; Robert Mitchum as the forcibly retired Marshal Flagg, and George Kennedy as old time nemesis Big John McKay. The pair team up after upstart Waco (David Carradine) takes over McKay's old gang, and gives him the bum's rush in a classic case of age discrimination. Back then you couldn't sue for such things.

This one is played for grins as much as it is for tough guy action. The smarmy and lascivious mayor of Progress is played by Martin Balsam, prone to getting caught with his pants down both literally and figuratively. I'm not sure what the Tina Louise character found interesting enough in the mayor to be caught dead in the same room with him. There was a line about her being a victim of internal combustion, so maybe that was it.

Something I never saw in a Western before, actually two things - there's a cool scene with an out of control buckboard where the two horses pulling it straddle a telephone pole - yikes! And how about McKay's spin around after being hit by a bullet in the shoulder trick. Very effectively done.

This probably won't be on anyone's list of Ten Best Westerns, but it's entertaining enough to devote the hour and a half or so to watch it. Mitchum and Kennedy play well off each other, and I liked the idea that they hooked up on a handshake, the way men of integrity used to do such things. I'm still wondering though why Buddy Hackett was in that opening crowd scene.
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great actors
SnoopyStyle8 June 2018
Retired US Marshal James Flagg (Robert Mitchum) gets news of his old nemesis outlaw John McKaye (George Kennedy). He tries to warn the town of Progress but he's sent packing instead by slimy Mayor Wilker (Martin Balsam). He tracks down McKaye who is only hanging on to a robbery gang led by Waco. He captures McKaye but the mayor dismisses him. When the gang positions themselves to rob the incoming train, the mayor recruits Flagg to the rescue with McKaye's help.

These are great veteran actors and they give me hope. There is an interesting idea of a grizzled lawman teaming up with a worn down villain. I don't really like the mayor's idiocy. The movie could have gone down a grittier, darker path but it chooses to be a wacky comedy. It's not the best choice. The chemistry between Mitchum and Kennedy does keep this on the tracks but only barely.
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The Tame West
JamesHitchcock10 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The 'Classical Age' of the Old West, as portrayed in movies, was approximately the quarter-century following the end of the American Civil War. The general consensus among film-makers is that after 1890, and certainly after 1900, the Wild West gradually became the Tame West, more peaceful and law-abiding but also less interesting than it had been previously. John Wayne in "The Shootist" (set in 1901) and William Holden and his companions in "The Wild Bunch" (set in 1913/14) are portrayed as ageing Wild West heroes who know that they have outlived their time.

"The Good Guys and the Bad Guys", made in the same year as "The Wild Bunch", is another post-1900 Western with a similar theme. To judge from the cars and the fashions we see, the action probably takes place around 1910. The hero is Marshal Jim Flagg, a veteran lawman honoured for having brought peace and order to the once-lawless town of Progress. Flagg gets wind of a rumour that a once-notorious bandit named John McKay, long believed to be dead, is in fact still alive and planning a raid on the train bringing a large sum of money to the town's bank. Unfortunately, when Flagg tries to warn the townspeople he is not believed, and is "retired" from his duties by the Mayor, who thinks him unduly alarmist. Of course, Flagg is proved right, and sets off to thwart the villains. In this he has an unlikely ally- McKay himself, whom he captures in a skirmish. Although McKay is a villain he has his own code of honour, and has been offended by the cowardly, dishonourable way in which his subordinate Waco shot an elderly man in the back.

The film can be seen as a comic version of "Firecreek", which came out the previous year. That film, like "The Shootist" and "The Wild Bunch", is a serious drama rather than a comedy, but it also features an ageing lawman and an ageing bandit leader who no longer has complete authority over his younger gang members. "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys", by contrast, is a mixture of comedy and action-adventure, although it does have occasional serious moments, like the shooting of the old man. The comic elements largely arise from the satirical treatment of Martin Balsam's conniving, self-serving Mayor and from the fact that the chief bad guy now finds himself on the same side as the good guys.

Burt Kennedy was a director who specialised in Westerns; indeed, he tried to keep the flag flying on behalf of the genre throughout its lean years of the late seventies and eighties, although most of his films from that period were made for television rather than the cinema. His Westerns often incorporated a mixture of comic and serious elements; another example is the 1971 Raquel Welch vehicle "Hannie Caulder" which would be a standard revenge drama were it not for the fact that the villains are too ridiculous to take altogether seriously.

One criticism I would have is that the two lead actors were perhaps too young; Robert Mitchum was 52 when the film was made, and looked younger, and George Kennedy only 44, which means that neither is quite convincing as an ageing man whose time has been and gone. James Stewart and Henry Fonda were both in their early sixties when they made "Firecreek", and "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys" might have worked better if actors of a similar age had been found. Also, Glenn Yarborough's title song gets pretty annoying at times. Those criticisms apart, however, this is overall a watchable, if lightweight, comedy/adventure film. 6/10
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Lightweight comedy-western and Mitchum vehicle features little humor and predictable derring-do
Turfseer24 July 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Westerns were on the way out when The Good Guys and The Bad Guys came out in 1969. This didn't stop director Burt Kennedy from going ahead with a project that mixed comedy with the typical western action-adventure. It's supposed to be set 20 years after the James gang terrorized the Midwest, around the turn of the century. The fictional western town of Progress is replete with a plethora of automobiles-really too many for 1900, not to mention that some of those cars look like they're more from 1920 than twenty years earlier.

You might accuse me of quibbling a bit, but I really do appreciate films that aim for some concrete verisimilitude. Besides, the cars do play a big factor in the plot, as we shall see in a moment.

Even worse is the casting. Here the stars, Robert Mitchum (who plays the protagonist, the supposed over-the-hill Deputy Jim Flagg) and his arch-rival, outlaw "Big" John McKay (George Kennedy), are way too young for the parts. Mitchum was 52 when the film was made and Kennedy, 44; and they expect us to believe that these two would be considered cows ready to be put out to pasture?

The theme, of course, is reverence for the elderly; those who have grown older still are worthy of our respect. At film's end, Flagg and McKay join forces to foil a train robbery, pitted against some realistic bad guys led by Waco (David Carradine).

Much of the alleged comedy stems from the machinations of the mealy-mouthed Mayor Wilker (Martin Balsam), who promptly sends Flagg into retirement after disbelieving his warnings about the reappearance of McKay and younger confederates. Yes, we get it that Wilker is duplicitous but he's simply not funny. That includes his interactions with Carmel (Tina Louise of "Gilligan's Island" fame), the errant "married woman" with whom he's having an affair. Louise has a wasted part, with little to do but look stupid as she fawns over him.

Equally disappointing is the banter between Flagg and McKay. The running joke is that Flagg intends to turn McKay into the authorities no matter what. He keeps his promise after they thwart the big train caper, reassuring McKay that he'll get off lightly due to his assistance in stopping the bad guys (McKay hardly protests against Flagg's specious promise!). In essence, these two supposed tough guys really are infused with "hearts of gold"-especially McKay, who hardly seems like much of an outlaw at all (rather a big teddy bear!).

Midway through the bad guys shake the town up after one of them shoots an old codger, introduced early on as a friend of the Marshal. The showpiece is the final scene where Flagg and McKay climb on board a steaming locomotive and prevent it from stopping in a town where Waco and his bad guys plan to relieve it of all the cash on board.

While Mitchum and Kennedy manage to entertain as they appear to climb on top of a moving train and shoot it out with conductors (curiously good shots with pistols), the fate of the train itself (falling off a bridge under repair), is laughable (due to the obvious miniature props employed). Even more silly are the townspeople in their new-fangled "Horseless carriages," chasing after the outlaws, who could have easily picked any of them off with a good shot or two.

The final shootout with the bad guys is wholly predictable, including the Marshal and his rival basically riding off into the sunset. Mitchum and Kennedy still are somewhat entertaining despite the weak material. This is not the not worst western that was ever made, but so lightweight that you'll probably forget about it after a day or two, after it promptly recedes from your memory.
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Comedy Western from Burt Kennedy featuring Robert Mitchum
jacobs-greenwood19 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of many (comedy) Westerns directed by Burt Kennedy; it was written by Ronald M. Cohen and Dennis Shryack. Robert Mitchum stars as Marshal James Flagg (about whom there's a ballad that plays throughout the film, in the background), an aging lawman whose skills and service helped tame the wild west such that Mayor Randolph Wilker (Martin Balsam) and the residents of his town named Progress have forgotten what it was like in the "old days" when bandits robbed trains. Buddy Hackett appears briefly (uncredited) as a townsman.

When Flagg hears from an old hermit friend of his named Grundy (Douglas Fowley) a description that makes him believe that train robber Big John McKay is in the area, he warns the mayor saying that he needs to organize a posse of men. But the mayor is up for reelection soon and he certainly doesn't want any furor to spoil things for him, so he gives Flagg a gold watch and retires him, leaving the deputy marshal he can better control, a big soft lug named Howard Boyle (Dick Peabody), in charge.

But Flagg decides to follow-up on what Grundy had told him, and finds the outlaws camp near the river. He rousts their horses and sneaks up on McKay (George Kennedy). However, Deuce (John Davis Chandler) gets the drop on him and gang leader Waco (David Carradine) laughs at the too old coots. McKay, it seems, is along for the ride and NOT in charge. In fact, he too is aged and not respected like he once was. He stops Deuce from killing Flagg so Waco leaves McKay in charge of taking care of the lawman. Flagg and McKay brawl, which exhausts both of them and Grundy has to help them back to town, where the now former lawman interrupts the amorous advances of his mayor with another man's wife, Tina Louise as Mrs. Flannagan. Of course, the mayor doesn't take Flagg's warnings seriously this time either, so the lawman returns to the boarding house where he lives; the proprietor Mary (Lois Nettleton) and he are somewhat romantically engaged.

Later in town, Grundy gets into a scuffle with Deuce over the attractive older saloon owner Polly (Marie Windsor), which leads the outlaw into shooting the hermit in the back. Before Boyle too gets shot, Waco intervenes to keep things quiet before the train arrives the next day. Upon learning of Grundy's murder, McKay decides to work with Flagg to stop Waco's gang from robbing the train. They decide to board it early and keep it from stopping in Progress; their efforts are hindered by an old train conductor (John Carradine) who recognizes outlaw McKay but not Marshal Flagg. So the two are arrested, temporarily, before they escape to take control of the train and run it through town and an automobile parked on the tracks. The outlaws give chase and then, encouraged by the mayor, so do the townsfolk in their back-firing automobiles and horse drawn carriages. It's a sight to see! Eventually, the train comes to a bridge that's out and it crashes down a hillside shortly after Flagg and McKay have jumped clear. There's a climactic shootout in which McKay has a showdown with Waco. Guess who wins? Then the mayor congratulations Flagg, who puts the cuffs back on McKay promising to take him in.
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Good Burt Kennedy comedy
doug-balch20 September 2010
This is a very entertaining Burt Kennedy Western, very much in the mold of "The War Wagon", although it more often crosses the line into straight comedy. I gave it five stars in my IMDb ranking. I ended up classifying it as a comedy, which I don't rank in my all time great Westerns system (I haven't figured out yet why I don't, it just feels like comedies should be ranked against each other in their own category).

Here's what I liked:

  • Robert Mitchum and George Kennedy are very good in this as an aging lawman and outlaw who become "frenemies". Both of these guys are very underrated actors. I can't think of a movie Kennedy was in that I didn't enjoy.

  • Martin Balsam practically steals the movie as the corrupt mayor. A really great comedic performance that was clearly the inspiration for Harvey Corman's governor character in "Blazing Saddles" a couple of years later. This movie really got me interested in Balsam. Looks like he was one of the early Actor's Studio guys like Eli Wallach. I only remember him from "Psycho" and "Hombre". Dude had some range. I'm going to make a point of watching some more of his work.

  • Nice location filming in New Mexico.

  • Some pretty good action set pieces with a locomotive.

  • Story moves along nicely, it's easy to get involved in the characters, there are no gaping plot holes.

  • Kennedy plays a notorious bank robber who everyone thinks was killed 10 or 15 earlier. In reality, he got married to a Quaker woman, went straight and was living in Canada. After she dies from fever, he leaves an 11 year old son behind to return to the U.S. and resume his career as a bank robber. Sound like someone we know? Hint: Clint Eastwood played the part.

Here's what wasn't so great:

  • Ridiculous title

  • David Carridine has a part.
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