A mountain man who wishes to live the life of a hermit becomes the unwilling intention of a long vendetta through Indians when he proves to be the match of their warriors in only-to-one combat on the early frontier.
Pollack and Redford collaborated successfully, their earnestness yielding some large, if in excess of indulgent, movies such as this factually based adventure. Redford plays Johnson, a loner who drops out of society to lodge in the mountains on the American-Canadian borders and has a exacting lifetime until he is helped by a trapper (Geer), who teaches him survival techniques and how to cope with sometimes hostile Indians. The storytelling is episodic, the locations (in Utah) are picturesque and the philosophy is delivered, to advantage Pauline Kael's phrase, in the 'description of pithy communication that gives you belly ache'.
"Liver-eatin' Johnson" was what this real-liveliness trapper was called, named after a particularly Hannibal Lecter-ish habit that is totally absent from this homogenised, ecologically canvass and politically counterbalance near-western. It's a pretty but after all is said tiresome epic, in which a miscast (too babies, too intelligent) Robert Redford struggles from one end to the other a semi-allegorical screenplay, poorly fashioned by John Milius and Edward Anhalt from two great accounts Vardis Fisher's Mountain Man and Crow Killer, a story about Raymond Thorp and Robert Bunker. Despite sterling fortify from Will Geer and Calamity Jane's Allyn Ann McLerie, the movie plainly doesn't gelatinize, and Warner Bros delayed its hand out in take the side of Redford's The Entr...
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