[Originally published in slightly different form in Movietone News 66-67, March 1981]
For his summer 1980 film, Clint Eastwood has chosen a sentimental, often corny script that layers screwball comedy conventions over the meanderings of a band of misfits who make a lifestyle, if not a living, out of being what they want rather than what they are. The script is the filmâ€™s greatest weakness, with its labored exposition, unmotivated dialogue, repetition without variation, insistent moralism, and tired rehashings of the bored-rich-girl-who-needs-a-good-screwing and living-sanely-in-an-insane-world clichÃ©s. But Bronco Billyâ€™s aggressive sincerity overcomes the scriptâ€™s problems. The notion of a band of drifters and dreamers, recalling Eastwoodâ€™s own The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) and Christmas 1978â€™s James Fargoâ€“directed Eastwood hit Every Which Way But Loose, again provides an excuse for impromptu zaniness while pushing many of the same thematic buttons: menacing lawmen; the emptiness of wealth; the pre-eminence of the independent, self-motivated American; barroom brawls and good olâ€™ boys; the celebration of old-time chivalry (Bronco Billy as a Lone Ranger without a mask) and of strong women who deserve their menâ€”in short, the reaffirmation of the same values upheld in country music and in the classic Western movie.