short takes (2)

* Another new western, Cattle Annie and Little Britches, has a trite story and impossible dialogue. Yet I found it tolerable, which is more than I can say for some recent releases. Credit goes to director Lamont Johnson for moving the action at a tremendous pace, even when the plot seems to stand still. And Burt Lancaster has mellowed into a marvelous new career as a mature character actor: He single-handedly redeems every scene he's in, bringing almost as much life to "Cattle Annie" as to his other current offering, "Atlantic City." Except for Rod Steiger, the other actors fare badly, and as a whole, it's not a picture I could recommend, with its silly tale of a likable outlaw and his female friends.

But there's at least a little vitality left in the western format, after years of neglect and the disaster of "Heaven's Gate." Epics like "Cattle Annie" and "The Legend of the Lone Ranger" may turn out to be the last of a dying breed , but the re's still hope that this fine old genre will find new life.

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