The Castaway Cowboy (1974)

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James Garner said about this film that “the best thing in it is the Hawaiian scenery”. Do I agree with that statement or is there something even better in this film than the scenery? Let’s find out together as I review The Castaway Cowboy.

And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!

The film begins with the opening credits.

So that’s what Andrew Jackson did after his presidency!

The film takes place on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. A widow, Henrietta MacAvoy, played by Vera Miles, lives there with her son, Booton, played by Eric Shea. They struggle to make a living planting potatoes, but now have a new issue on hand when a man washes ashore on the island. The natives take the man to Henrietta’s house to recover.

“I’m chasing Carmen Sandiego.”

The man is Lincoln Costain, a cowboy from Texas, played by James Garner, who has been shanghaied.

“They hired me for 8 Simple Rules!”

He is mighty appreciative of Henrietta taking care of him, but asks her to check to see if there are any boats leaving soon so that he can board and not overstay his welcome. While she goes into town, Booton shows Costain around and gets him familiar with the Hawaiian scenery, food, culture, and natives.

Costain also notices that one of the big hindrances to Henrietta’s potato crop is the fact that wild cattle often come to trample upon her crops. He mentions that she would make more money if she rounded up the wild cattle and started a cattle ranch instead.

This idea plus the fact that she owes most of her money to the local banker, Calvin Bryson, played by Robert Culp, persuades her to hire Costain to start up a cattle ranch.

And of course, she strategically hides the fact that there are ships leaving Kauai from Costain so that he will stay on. I think she’s been hanging around Norman Bates too long. Run, Costain!

Costain agrees and begins to teach her native workers how to ride horses and round up cows. Well first, he has to order a shipment of saddles and other necessary pieces of equipment.

“O-ho, the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin’ down the street,
Oh, please let it be for me!”

Frustratingly though, the natives don’t get the hang of it right away and are too playful and trying for Costain’s patience. He throws in the towel and heads into town to hop on the next ship out of Kauai.

“He’s gone to join my sister, Marion Crane. She has been feeling lonely a lot recently.”

However, Booton and the other natives ride into town all dressed up on their horses to persuade him to come back. Booton also reminds Costain of advice he gave him earlier about not quitting. Costain gives in and returns to teaching the natives who do a lot better this time around.

Finally, when Henrietta and Costain are ready to sell the cattle to transport them via ship to California, Mr. Bryson sends some of his henchmen to stampede the cattle. He does this so that Henrietta won’t be able to pay back her debts and as a result, lose her land and marry him.

Nevertheless, Costain and the natives manage to fight off the henchmen and Mr. Bryson and get the cattle on the ship bound for California. Costain decides to stay in Kauai to help Henrietta with the cattle ranch and presumably, get married to her eventually.

And that was The Castaway Cowboy. And yes, while the best thing in it is the Hawaiian scenery, I do think there are other good things about the film as well. It’s a pleasant enough film with a simple plot and good acting by James Garner and Vera Miles. There is a subplot with a witch doctor that seems unnecessary as well as some of the portrayals of the natives may be offensive to some. It’s not an amazing film, but it’s nothing horrible either.

So, my final score for this film is 24/35 = 68.57% (D+) !

The next review will be posted on May 12, 2020.

2 thoughts on “The Castaway Cowboy (1974)

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