Director – Joseph Pevney (Star Trek, The Incredible Hulk)
Starring – Clint Walker (Small Soldiers, Deadly Harvest), Martha Hyer (Picture Mommy Dead, Blood on the Arrow), and Keenan Wynn (Black Moon Rising, Tales from the Darkside)
Release Date – 1966
Rating – 4/5
Blu Release – 4/5
I’m not much of a western fan. I grew up watching westerns from every decade because my dad was obsessed but They never clicked with me. There are some westerns that I enjoy but I can easily count them on one hand. Sometime ago, I can’t exactly remember when, Olive Films released the 1966 western Night of the Grizzly starring Clint Walker.
Though I am not a western fan I was still aware of the name Clint Walker. Anyone born in the middle to late 80s should recall seeing that name in the Joe Dante film Small Soldiers as he was the voice for Nick Nitro. The artwork really pulled me in for the blu release and made me think I could pass it off as slightly horror so I reached out to Olive Films for a review copy and they were kind enough to send one my way. Thanks guys.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows Big Jim Cole (Walker) who was once a sheriff but has since retired and moved out into the country with his family and deputy to live on a ranch that his father won in a card game. The original owner of the land wants it back and harasses Jim for it.
His two sons are trouble makers which adds even more stress to Jim as he struggles to repair the house on the property and raise livestock to support his family. To make matters worse, He has to take loans out to buy even more livestock when a grizzly named Satan slaughters what he has. When a bounty is offered on the grizzly the only option Jim has left is to kill it to collect the reward money or face losing his property.**Spoiler Alert**
Most of the time westerns of the late 50s and 60s all had similar stories that bored the living piss out of me. They usually followed a good cowboy, usually a sheriff or lawman of some kind, as they took on a gang of outlaws who just happen to have a charismatic leader that is rough around the edges. You can’t argue with me there because I’ve seen more of these films than I care to count with my father growing up. The Night of the Grizzly was not that kind of western. It predated the “when animals attack” boom of the 70s but was a little more than your average western.
The acting in this one is great. People often look at these older movies and comment that the acting is cheesy and corny but they fail to realize that films were different then. It may feel cheeky at times but the cast handles their role almost like a play. They do a great job at that. Compared to today’s films and television they may overact at times but they do a fantastic job and make this film as fun as it is.
The story for this one is very entertaining. The characters are easily my favorite part of the film. Some are serious “rough and tumble” type characters that you see in most westerns but we have a few characters that are not to be taken seriously. They stand out and offer some comic relief when the film gets too serious. I enjoyed that. I also enjoyed the pacing of the film. The film does get a slow start but the film makes good use of the time to develop backstories and characters.
Finally, there is several on screen kills but you have to remind yourself this is a western from the 60s and not a German splatter film. The kills are centered around the grizzly which used a fake bear and clever camera tricks to pull them off. The effects are minimal and very noticeable. Overall, The Night of the Grizzly is the very definition of entertainment. I could not look away and the story was very compelling. The effects were far from perfect but that adds to the charm. I recommend you grab of a copy of this. You wont regret it!
Blood on the Claw – How Cheyenne Brodie Became A Movie Star
The Legend of Big Jim Cole – Clint Walker Interview
Night of the Grizzly World Premier Archival Footage
Clint Walker Archival Interview