Duffy's Not Quite a Dallas Cowboy
When a gang of bank robbers kidnap one of their own children as a form of security Sheriff Tomas 'Swede' Lundstrom (Patrick Duffy - Daddy) persuades former gunfighter Samuel Kendrick (Stacy Keach - Frozen Impact) to help track them down as it is his grandson who has been kidnapped. But Lundstrom and Kendrick are not the only ones on the trail as they are accompanied by Edwin Bornstein (David Rees Snell) a city banker who is strangely too good with a gun to just be a banker and there are a couple of bounty hunters also after the gang.
As a western fan "Desolation Canyon" is bad with its romanticized vision of the Wild West where disputes are settled with a handshake and a comical quip. In fact as westerns go Desolation Canyon" is one of the corniest often painful movies you will ever see with the likes of Patrick Duffy miscast as the grizzled town Sheriff. But ironically if you watch "Desolation Canyon" knowing it is bad it ends up entertaining because all which is bad will make you laugh, be it the shocking dialogue, the humour surrounding characters or often the casting.
To be fair "Desolation Canyon" has got a reasonably decent storyline with the sheriff and a retired gunfighter going after some bank robbers who are holding the retired gunfighter's Grandson hostage. It has plenty of little add on sub plots such as the bounty hunters who just want to kill the robbers plus there is Edwin the Boston bank manager who rides with Swede and Samuel who for a city handles a gun suspiciously well. Basically writer Dan Fitzsimons has taken a few western ideas and combined them to make the good basis for a western.
Unfortunately what comes of this good basis is certainly not good and the vision of the West we encounter in "Desolation Canyon" is of the modern romanticized version. The minute the movie starts you know that this is going to be a movie which is pretty from the gang of robbers riding through the open range through to the civilized town where nice guy Sheriff Lundstrom's most pressing job is whether to release the town drunk. And it gets no better because we then get the falsity which sees Lundstrom and Samuel hitting the trail together to track down the robbers and get very close to talking about their feelings. It's meant to be amusing these two old timers riding the trail again like they once did but talk of a banker wanting to marry and failing sight is purely corny. And trust me it gets worse when we have disputes dealt with in seconds with a few wise words and a shake of the hands; even years of hurt are dealt with in this way.
To put it simply "Desolation Canyon" tries to paint this romantic, nice version of the West where whilst bad guys die there is no cussing, no brawling just good men dealing with bad men because good men have family values. But it is so bad that "Desolation Canyon" becomes one of those movies where it ends up entertaining for being bad. When we first encounter Edwin riding high in the saddle and saying he is riding like a proper equestrian it's not funny because it is quirky, it is laughable for being so bad. And it goes on with so many truly bad scenes that often when you groan in despair you also laugh.
As for the acting well in a way Patrick Duffy fits into this romanticized ideal of the west because his Sheriff Tomas 'Swede' Lundstrom is a really nice guy although you really have to go some to believe this is a man who rode the trail, thought in the war and has killed people. A little bit more believable is Stacy Keach because as Samuel Kendrick he has that grizzled look of a man who has done his share of hard living and killing although you will laugh at the cliche which is his pretty young Mexican wife Alejandra played by the beautiful Yvonne Delarosa. And then there is David Rees Snell who as city banker Edwin Bornstein is cast for comedy value and in fairness he delivers the comedy even if the comedy makes you groan.
What this all boils down to is that "Desolation Canyon" is not a good movie and is close to being a western travesty with its romanticized ideal of the West. But then ironically it is one of those movies which is so bad, so corny that it ends up being a little entertaining for all the wrong reasons.