The Villain/ Mel Tillis
The Villain / Cactus Jack / (1979)
Alias Cactus Jack
A long time ago I stopped identifying Movie Stars as Actors.
Because many Movie Stars are lousy Actors (or Actresses). Terrible.
However, a lot of good Actors never become Movie Stars either.
In the Entertainment trade, Acting, Talent, and Skill are secondary to Charisma: Star Power.
Sex appeal enters here largely.
In all, it’s about Money.
A Movie Star who is a good Actor/Actress with Star Power and Sex Appeal is a rare and Hot commodity.
But Star Power and Sex Appeal are often all it takes to be Hot at the Box Office.
Acting by itself rarely does the trick.
Therefore a great Shakespearean Actor may never become a Movie Star.
This brings us to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a lousy Actor.
Yet he became one of the biggest Movie Stars ever.
Arnold’s climb to Stardom didn’t happen overnight.
From 1963 to 1980 – age 16 to age 33 – he was in Bodybuilding competitions. 20 years.
Perhaps the greatest Bodybuilder ever.
So eventually – in 1979 – 32-year-old Arnold made his 3rd/4th? Movie:
The Villain. (Also called Cactus Jack).
A Western Comedy.
This wasn’t his breakthrough Movie.
That was Conan in 1982.
In The Villain Arnold was terrible. His Acting was about as wooden as a cigar store Bodybuilder.
Arnold claimed he’d been taking Acting lessons.
They weren’t evident.
This Movie should have ended his career.
So it’s rather incredible he was still around for Conan in 1982
where he was definitely Cast for his incredible physique – not his Acting chops.
Therefore, perhaps the strangest thing about The Villain was that Arnold’s only undeniable asset – his phenomenal musculature –
was not exploited in any way in the Movie!!?
He doesn’t bare even one muscle.
Which is rather mind numbing!
So why was he in this Movie at all?
“If it bleeds, we can kill it.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger / Predator
That’s a theory.
This Movie is bleeding all over, but it’s still moving.
Apart from Arnold – the Cast in this thing was pretty good:
Kirk Douglas, Ann-Margret, Paul Lynde, Foster Brooks, Ruth Buzzi, Jack Elam, Strother Martin, Mel Tillis …
There certainly seems to be enough Talent here to make something happen.
So I have to blame things on Director Hal Needham. The Director is the guy in charge. And though Directors are not usually involved in the Casting or Writing he still had something to work with. A great Director can get a worthy performance out of a dead horse.
Kirk Douglas!!!?? in this thing!? What was he thinking?
At least Arnold can say he was in a Movie with one of greatest Western Movie Stars of all time.
Hal Needham, who was one of the greatest Film Stuntman of all time (Legendary) went on to Direct
Burt Reynolds, in Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, The Cannonball Run and Stroker Ace.
Those Movies made multi-millions.
Ann knows why she’s there.
So … was this Movie a Contract Dump? You have to wonder.
And how did Arnold even get a contract to begin with?
I’ll show you.
“Don’t be afraid to fail.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger