9 December 2014 | Wuchakk
Low-budget, but grasps greatness
The title, "Molly and Lawless John," reveals the plot of this underrated 1972 Western: A doomed-to-be-hanged Outlaw (Sam Elliott) escapes jail, taking the love-starved wife of the sheriff with him. Their misadventures ensue. John Anderson plays the sheriff.
While this is a low-budget Western, the filmmakers take advantage of their resources to produce a low-key adult Western that touches greatness. Despite the limited funds, the movie effectively supplies many of the typical Western staples, like a bank robbery, a jailbreak, posse chases, a sojourn through the desert, a watering hole, a Native American attack-and-capture sequence and magnificent New Mexican locations. Take, for instance, the Indian segment: Only a handful of Natives appear in the cast, but the filmmakers give the illusion of an entire tribe.
Yet it's the story itself where this Western shines. Despite the generally slow-moving drama, the movie maintains your attention with great performances and interesting psychological subtexts. Vera Miles is outstanding in the titular role as the gentle, humble, modest, compassionate and daring Molly. The ages of the cast members match the details of the story pretty well: Vera, as the childless wife, was 42 during filming while Sam Elliott was 27; and the stunning Cynthia Myers was only 21 in her brief and final role (remember her from the notorious "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" from 1970?). Myers was easily one of the most beautiful women to walk the earth at the time.
By the way, if you're thinking about viewing "Molly and Lawless John" expecting the typical amiable Sam Eliott Westerner, look elsewhere. Again, the title of the film tells all.
The film runs 98 minutes.
PS: People complain about the DVD because it's full-screen and the picture quality supposedly isn't up to snuff but, despite the full-screen presentation, I thought it looked fine for such an obscure Western; and I didn't have a problem making out what was going on in the dark jail, pueblo or cave. The filmmakers were shooting for realistic lighting and they did a fine job.