Stars: Anthony Edwards, Louis Gossett Jr., John Glover, Joe Pantoliano, Robert Beltran
Genre: Comedy, Western
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 115 minutes
When a teenage schoolgirl is kidnapped by Mexican bandit El Diablo (Star Trek: Voyager's Robert Beltran), her clumsy, awkward schoolteacher Billy Ray Smith (Anthony Edwards) sets out to save her. The would-be hero in this offbeat Western teams up with crotchety veteran gunslinger Van Leek (Louis Gossett Jr.), who helps him form an unlikely posse to rescue Smith's damsel in distress. What sets this low-key, made-for-cable production apart from numerous other Westerns is its humorously skewed take on the myths and legends of the Old West, as it not only deconstructs Hollywood's romanticized view of the genre but Billy Ray's veneration of a mythical gunfighter named Kid Durango, whose literary adventures he regularly reads to his students. Gossett is wonderfully droll as unscrupulous six slinger Van Leek, whose motives are always suspect; Edwards is charming as the bumbling teacher; and the supporting cast--which includes Branscombe Richmond (Renegade), Miguel Sandoval (Get Shorty), and John Glover (Brimstone)--imbue life into their quirky gun-for-hire roles. Indeed the best aspect of El Diablo is the way in which many of its characters' façades are gradually revealed. The very tongue-in-cheek screenplay was coauthored by Halloween director John Carpenter. --Bryan Reeseman
Billy Ray Smith:
The day began like a thousand other Arizona days. That was... until the cloud came. It began on the horizon. Shadows of dust moving at great speed. And then the pounding of hoofs on the hard ground. As the whirlwind got closer, you could see into the dust. The shapes of horses and then the riders. Riders with guns on both hips and bandoleers across their chests. They rode hard. They rode with a purpose. As they approached the town, they reined back on their horses. The dust around them settled and you could see their faces. Faces weathered by the Mexican sun. Faces marked by violence.
I'll tell you something about this El Diablo. They did find him once. Caught him down in Amos, a little border town north of Laredo. Caught him, tried him and hanged him all in the same night. But he wouldn't die. He just hanged there by his neck, spitting at the crowd like they disgusted him. Cussed 'em out so bad the women folk had to go home. I was there when they cut him down. And I thank the Lord I left when I did. Three days later, so the story goes, El Diablo returned to Amos with his men and cut out the heart of every man, woman and child in the whole blessed town. And just left them there to bleach in the sun. Pretty soon, they started to rot and then the buzzards come and started pecking.
We are committing this man, Mr. Jones... ah... Mr. Shones, to his life in the hereafter. We would like to take a moment to acknowledge his contributions to our community. During Mr. Shones' short-lived term as Sheriff, he served the public to the best of his abilities. He shot eight men and three women, most of whom were engaged in breaking the law. I'm sure the others were honest mistakes.