Picks and Pans Review: Bronco Billy

updated 07/14/1980 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/14/1980 01:00AM

The evolution of Clint Eastwood's screen persona continues. Gone is the ornery cowboy of spaghetti Westerns; gone, too, is the rock-hard cop, Dirty Harry. In their place is a milder, mellower hero, still a man of few words and sometimes prone to violence, but essentially a likable guy. Here Clint calls himself Bronco Billy McCoy, a onetime New Jersey shoe salesman running a Wild West show. Billy is a huckster with a heart of gold who will do anything for his tattered troupe (including instigating a bungled attempt at train robbery), and he always has a kind word for the "little pardners" in the audience. The character is much too good to be true; Eastwood knows it and plays Billy with a self-mocking, easygoing charm. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for his protégée, Sondra Locke, who overacts annoyingly as a New York heiress who winds up in Clint's show. Eastwood's direction is slack too; the film, which has a grainy, washed-out look, just moseys along. It's amiable, but aimless. (PG)

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