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Billy Two Hats (1973)

Ted Kotcheff directed this curious western in Israel two years after making the excellent Wake In Fright (1971) in Australia. It’s about the friendship of old Scottish outlaw Arch Deans (Gregory Peck) and young hot-blooded half-breed Billy Two Hats (Desi Arnaz Jr) as they are chased across the frontier by dogged Sheriff Gifford (Jack Warden).

For much of the film, Deans is unable to walk so Billy drags him around the desert while the older man reclines in a cot. This creates lots of opportunities for the Scottish rascal to regale his companion with monologues, and Peck’s voice is such a gorgeous instrument that some of the chatty bits are entertaining.

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He also cuts a great figure with his thick black beard and sloppily bundled clothing, even when confined to the cot.

Peck and Arnaz Jr are, in many ways, very good. It’s just that their very casting is unusual, to say the least.

Alan Sharp’s script wanders a little too much, ultimately saying nothing. That criticism would not be so severe were it not for the fact that in saying nothing, Sharp is not very entertaining either.

One of the three producers was Norman Jewison.

Arch Deans
Gregory Peck
Billy Two Hats
Desi Arnaz Jr
Sheriff Henry Gifford
Jack Warden
Copeland, Saloon Owner
David Huddleston
Copeland’s Squaw
Dawn Little Sky
Esther Spencer
Sian Barbara Allen
Spencer
John Pearce
Indian Leader
Vince St. Cyr
Indians
Henry Medicine Hat
Zeev Berlinsky
Antony Scott

Director
Ted Kotcheff