Bite the Bullet (1975) starring Gene Hackman, Candice Bergen, James Coburn, Ben Johnson directed by Richard Brooks Movie Review

Bite the Bullet (1975)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Gene Hackman and James Coburn in Bite the Bullet (1975)

A Long Way to Ride

With a newspaper financing a 700 mile endurance horse race it attracts the attention of a variety of entrants from old Mister (Ben Johnson) who wishes to make his mark on the world before he dies to Miss Jones (Candice Bergen) a former prostitute who has various reasons for wanting to win the race and the prize money. And then there is Sam Clayton (Gene Hackman) a former Rough Rider who thinks the race is a lot of nonsense even if his old friend and fellow Rough Rider Luke Matthews (James Coburn) is one of the entrants. It is when some of the entrants and there don't care attitude annoys him that Sam decides to enter and brings his level headed attitude to what could end up a hostile competition.

Maybe it was my fault, maybe I saw the cast of "Bite the Bullet" and thought maybe this would be an impressive western, a 70s hoorah for the western which would help dispatch some of the memories of other less than impressive 70s westerns. Sadly it isn't and whilst "Bite the Bullet" has an impressive cast, some impressive locations and nice cinematography to capitalize on it the end result is a forgettable movie which desperately wants to impress but rarely does.

Candice Bergen in Bite the Bullet (1975)

The trouble is for me that "Bite the Bullet" is a movie not about what happens but about issues so it features a few scenes surrounding racism as a Mexican in need of the winnings for his family is constantly suffering racist jibes, we also see some sportsmanship and attitudes to looking after their animals and respecting women no matter what they may have been. But none of it is really gripping for those who watch because they want a western.

It isn't all bad and there is a genuinely good scene surrounding the movies title when Sam and Miss Jones use a bullet case to help the Mexican with a badly chipped and infect tooth. Plus the scenes which Coburn and Hackman share together are some of the movies best because they bring to the movie that old western sense of buddies who can wind each other up but will have each other's backs in a fight.

What this all boils down to is that "Bite the Bullet" didn't do it for me and was one of those movies where maybe my expectations were too high, raised from reading reviews saying it was a great western. In fairness it has its moments and the cinematography is great but for me it was a slog and a lot less of a western and more of a bitty adventure movie for those interested in issues than western action.