A retired Texas Ranger and his three aging pals are hired to clean up a lawless town.
Release Date: 7 October 1969 (USA)
Director: Jean Yarbrough
Writer: Jameson Brewer, Leonard Goldberg (story
Cast: Walter Brennan, Edgar Buchanan, Andy Devine
For many people made for TV westerns are in a league of their own. They encompass a small genre where the lawman stands for truth, integrity, and does not use his position for greed. These movies usually have a strong, undeniable moral truth attached to them and make for very good family style movies. The Over the Hill Gang is no exception to this.
A made for television movie; the Over the Hill Gang was first introduced to movie watchers in 1969. The cast includes a blend of older actors who, in some instances, are putting one final feather in their cap and some young upstarts. Actors like Jack Elam, who portrays Sheriff Clyde Barnes who is at the mayor’s beck and call. The mayor, played by veteran actor Edward Andrews, is locked into a political battle with an upstart with big ideas for change, justice, and preserving integrity. Played by Rick Nelson, Jeff Rose then has his father in law send for some help in the form of retired Texas Rangers to clean up the town.
While the movie is made for TV there is a great deal of passion being portrayed in the lives of the people that are lived out on the screen. A movie that is coupled with widespread humor (an aging scout that keeps drawing his gun on stuffed animals), serious confrontations, and underlying moral message, the Over the Hill Gang carries a large fan base that enabled a sequel to be made a year later.
The Over the Hill Gang is a fine collection of older western actors who look like they have a great time with this production. It shows through the lighthearted way that they interact on screen. Director Jean Yarbrough was instrumental in this. He wanted people who could come together that could both poke fun at their advancing age and get along while working on the film.
Gypsey Rose Lee makes her final film appearance in Over the Hill Gang, and does not squander the opportunity. Walter Brennan, Chill Wills, and Edgar Buchanan also round out the different character ensemble for a full complement of Western movie stars. A film that will not be remembered because of its age, or the age of the characters, but because of the way that it can bring back memories of days gone past and plenty of humor.
The interaction is really what makes this movie different than some of the other, more serious types of TV westerns. As older Texas Rangers come to grips with the way their bodies are coping with the advanced years. The banter between the corrupt mayor, the Rangers, the sheriff, and even the ladies on the show is priceless and sure to bring plenty of laughter into your home. If you are looking for a movie that you can sit with your family, laugh a lot, see some examples of good over evil, and just have a good time, then Over the Hill Gang is one of those movies you must see.