The Culpepper Cattle Co. (1972)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Gary Grimes and Geoffrey Lewis in The Culpepper Cattle Co. (1972)

Coming of Age the Culpepper Way

As a teenager Ben Mockridge (Gary Grimes) yearns for more than just being a delivery boy for his mother in their back water town where the only excitement is cart racing with friends. It is why Ben pays cattle rancher Frank Culpepper (Billy Green Bush) a visit and asks to join his team on the next cattle drive as he believes being a cowboy is going to be an exciting life. But Ben soon discovers being a cowboy is as mundane as it gets especially when you are just "little Mary" for the cook who tells him that cowboying is what you do when you can't do anything else.

"The Culpepper Cattle Co." is a curious movie as it is certainly not like the westerns which came before it. Take the camera work; there is nothing out of the ordinary about it, smooth movements and a nice mix of shots from different ranges. But whilst there isn't anything which has outstanding style there is a beauty to it all of its own from having an almost dirty, fly on the wall look as it captures these cattle men as they go about their day to day business. And some of the landscape shots are quite captivating, staggeringly beautiful at times as the sun comes up on the men.

But then you have the storyline in "The Culpepper Cattle Co." and this seems like it has been made to highlight how all the excitement and heroics shown in those classic westerns was completely false. As such the storyline revolves around young Ben discovering that life as a cowboy is as mundane as life was back home. It is certainly an interesting storyline but as someone who likes to be entertained by a movie and its storyline I have to say this one doesn't always deliver on that entertainment, just every now and then it delivers some action or thrills.

But then there is more to "The Culpepper Cattle Co." and here is a movie with a cast of actors who at the time were really just supporting actors, there is no star lead man so to speak of. Yet all the actors play their parts well and do so with complete lack of ego which actually makes it all that more interesting and at times observational.

What this all boils down to is that "The Culpepper Cattle Co." is an interesting western and in some ways it is unique. But for all its uniqueness it doesn't constantly entertain and is a movie with plenty of scenes which simply end up mundane.


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