The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday
by Jef Burnham
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Lee Marvin (The Dirty Dozen) and Oliver Reed (The Three Musketeers (1973), The Brood) star in this comedy-western from director Don Taylor (The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977)), now available on on-demand DVD from the MGM Limited Edition Collection. Typical of my experience with the releases in this collection, Great Scout boasts a terrific transfer that certainly does no disservice to the film’s Technicolor stock. But it’s honestly hardly worth it as The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday is ultimately embarrassingly unfunny.
Sam Longwood (Marvin) is a former military hero turned con man. And his partner, Joe Knox (Reed), is a half-breed Native American who plots to drive the white man from the country by spreading the clap through the whorehouses of the west. Their former partner, Jack Colby (Robert Culp, The Greatest American Hero), who cheated them out of the money earned from their gold mine 15 years earlier, is now campaigning for presidential bid of William Howard Taft. After Sam and Joe bump into Jack and fail to procure the money owed them, they, along with a young prostitute called Thursday (Kay Lenz, House (1986)), embark on a series of zany schemes aimed at getting their money back.
The film drags on endlessly with supposedly comic situations filling the place of plot and character development. Exacerbating the film’s already tragic lack of humor is the casting of British actor Oliver Reed as the Native American character. His portrayal of the character is so stereotyped it will have you squirming in your seat in uncomfortable embarrassment. What’s more, the damn thing simply won’t end. An hour and forty-two minutes feels like an eternity when you’re watching a comedy without a single laugh.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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