We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
The realities of the Hollywood star system prevent "The Honkers" from being the film it might have been and telling the story it wants to tell, and that is a shame. Top billing in the film goes to James Coburn (who is the star in question, of course) and we learn that he's a honker - a hard-riding, hard-living rodeo tough guy, etc. The movie has to go through the motions of being about him.
But the fact is that the movie's story - the one that grips and interests us despite the many pointless Coburn scenes - is really about two of the people closest to him, his best friend and his wife. They both understand Coburn pretty well. They know he's irresponsible and infantile and insensitive, but they love him. In a way, they're drawn together by their feeling for him.
The best friend is played by Slim Pickens, who has never been better in a movie. His performance here, coupled with Ben Johnson's acting in "The Last Picture Show," suggests that there might be a lot of talent and feeling in all those Western character actors who never get to say much.
The wife is played by Lois Nettleton, whose role is almost impossible to get right, and yet she does. She has to understand Coburn, love him and yet retain her pride and her independence. She has a boy to raise, and there's a responsible man who loves her, and somehow she has to get all these things right in her life and yet not compromise too much.