Once upon a Texas Train - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Once upon a Texas Train Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ September 2, 2013
Pleasant TV fare with a great cast of character actors. In one of his last films Richard Widmark is a crusty pleasure.
July 19, 2013
A made-for-TV movie, with all the production values that entails. Two groups (one outlaws, one lawmen) who have been out of commission for about 20 years, get back together for one last skirmish. Tries too hard to be funny and cutesy, not hard enough on the action and gun play. The main fight scene is unbelievably lame. For a western to have no deaths or serious injuries is just too far from reality.
½ April 28, 2011
A fun comedy-western with excellent performances. Unfortunately after the half-way point the movie becomes tedious to watch and ends on a terrible shoot-out scene. Worth a few laughs but not much else.
November 30, 2009
THE TRAIN ROBBERS writer & director Burt Kennedy is responsible for a couple of classic westerns, but his rugged looking, made-for-television oater ONCE UPON A TEXAS TRAIN is no classic. Okay, Kennedy hasn‚??t lost his knack for writing catchy dialogue and there are several helpings of quotable dialogue, but this sagebrusher is strictly a second-rate saga that not even his all-star oldster cast cannot salvage. Willie Nelson is cast as convicted train robber John Henry Lee and Richard Widmark plays opposite him as Texas Ranger Captain Owen Hayes. John Henry Lee receives a pardon twenty years after he tried to rob the eponymous Texas train and he has spent those twenty years figuring out where his gang and he took the wrong turn. Kennedy opens this western with long shots of the Texas train pulling into a depot where a brief gunfight ensues as John Henry and his men surrender. Clearly, these guys are a lot younger than the stars so we never get a close look at them. Although ONCE UPON A TEXAS TRAIN starts out with a modicum of promise, this 96-minute melodrama ends inconclusively. Kennedy leaves it wide open as to what course of action that John Henry will take. Aside from the leathery tough dialogue that intertwines metaphors with philosophy, there is little to look forward to in his western. Indeed, it is great to see old timers like Chuck Connors, Jack Elam, Ken Curtis, Dub Taylor, Stuart Whitman, Royal Dano, and Hank Worden in another dustraiser. The western town exteriors in Mescal, Arizona, and location shooting around Old Tucson give this western a rugged look that lenser Ken Lamkin of BIG BAD JOHN gives it.

After Captain Hayes arrests John Henry Lee and sends him to prison, ONCE UPON A TEXAS TRAIN leaps forward twenty years into the future. John Henry Lee (a long-haired Willie Nelson of THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN) leaves prison and catches a ride in a wagon driven by his brother Charlie Lee (Dub Taylor of BANDOLERO!) and they head off to Del Rio. No sooner do they reach Del Rio than John Henry blows the front off the local bank and skedaddles with $20-thousand in two sacks. Naturally, Captain Hayes (Richard Widmark of ‚??The Law and Jake Wade‚??) is furious because he thought that John Henry would go straight. Hayes recruits a posse of his old time pals, among them ace tracker Jason Fitch (Jack Elam of SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER), Nash Crawford (Chuck Connors of THE DESERTER), and George Asque (Stuart Whitman of RIO CONCHOS), to ride with him. Meanwhile, John Henry has assembled several hombres, among them Kelly Sutton (Ken Curtis of RIO GRANDE), explosives expert Nitro Jones (Royal Dano of GUNPOINT), and Fargo Parker (Gene Evans of THE STEEL HELMET) help him rob the Texas train. The voice-over narration that identifies these veterans contains some ironic humor. They are as good as they once were but they are professionals. John Henry is confident that everything will work out until he learns that the Texas Train is no longer trundling down the railroad that he remembered from yesteryear.

A gang of young guns led by Cotton (Shaun Cassidy) get the drop on John Henry and company and disarm them and take them prisoner. They escort the old bad guys to a ghost town where Captain Hayes catches up with them and a brief gunfight erupts. Secretly, John Henry has a stick of dynamite that he threatens to heave into a burning stove if Cotton doesn‚??t let them go. Reluctantly, Cotton and his gunmen surrender their guns and John Henry and company cross the street and meet Hayes and his guns. The next day our heroes deposit the arsenal of firearms that belonged to Cotton and his cronies and they have a showdown in the street in broad daylight. Of course, nobody dies. They are wounded. Nash is a bullet in the arm and John Henry helps Hayes arrest Cotton and company. Afterward, Nash offers Hayes a proposition. Nash believes if they let John Henry return the gold to the Del Rio Bank, the town citizens will let John Henry and company leave. Hayes observes that Canada is pretty this time of year before John Henry rides out.

RIO BRAVO actress Angie Dickinson has a cameo as the wife of Captain Hayes who was briefly infatuated with John Henry. They reunite momentarily at a stage coach relay station where Hayes decides to let John Henry go. As the heroic villains are riding away, they hear the sounds of a nearby locomotive and the words Texas train slips from John Henry‚??s lips. At this point, the end credits roll and we never know if John Henry will realize his life-long dream of robbing a Texas train. This unknown ending mars ONCE UPON A TEXAS TRAIN.
November 3, 2009
Great movie with a legendary cast.
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