The World According to Arnie – Cactus Jack (1979)

Cactus Jack Title 

Out of some self-destructive sense of completion, I decided to start this Arnie retrospective in the 70’s. Sweet jesus was that a mistake. Arnie really served up a giant pile of shit in that decade, and Cactus Jack (it’s called The Villain in the US) is no exception.

Cactus Jack Poster Cactus Jack (Kirk Douglas) is an utterly inept wannabe outlaw. So inept he has to read from a guidebook for bad guys. In jail after a failed bank robbery, some lazy eyed rich bloke (Jack Elam) offers him his freedom and $500 for a robbery. The rich bloke is buying some guys ranch or something, and he wants Jack to steal back his money. Handsome Stranger (Arnie), yes that’s his name, knows the ranch guy (“he saved my life”) and agrees to escort ranch guys daughter Charming (Ann-Margret) and the money.

Cactus Jack 1 That summation really doesn’t make much sense, and I can’t be bothered trying to make sense of it because it’ll take all day. Instead I’ll point out a number of moronic aspects of the plot. Firstly, Charming arrives safely on a train to collect the money. But for no apparent reason (apart from it being necessary for Jack to try to rob them) Handsome escorts her back to her town in a horse and cart. Secondly, trying to steal back your own money moments after you’ve just handed it over (but not gained proper ownership of the ranch) is fucking moronic. Shouldn’t the rich bloke have waited until the money had been properly exchanged and the “keys” to the ranch handed over? Thirdly…. aah fuck it. It’s not worth it.

This is an alleged comedy, so going over the plot is an exercise in futility. It’s essentially a long, boring, unfunny, live-action Road Runner cartoon (which I love), complete with the Looney Tunes music at the end, and many of the same jokes. Cactus Jack actually paints a tunnel in the side of a mountain, which Handsome and Charming safely travel through, but Jack runs in to when he follows. To say these jokes fall flatter than Keira Knightleys chest is an understatement. There is very little, if anything to be amused about. And it’s filled with jokes that were stale 40 years before even this was made, so watching it today is beyond painful. For example, Arnie helps a lady across a busy street, but she didn’t want to cross in the first place. HA… ha… The fact that a lot of effort went in to that scene and that was the punchline makes it even worse. Just look at the names of the characters to see how shit the comedy is. Handsome Stranger. Parody Jones (what’s he a parody of? He’s in the movie for two seconds). Charming Jones. Good god it’s shit.

Cactus Jack 4 There’s a section of the movie where Handsome and Charming travel through “Indian County” (and it is County, it’s pointed out in the movie as if its a joke). And here we get a irritating gay white bloke as the Chief Indian, who ends up helping Jack for some reason I didn’t care to follow. If it weren’t so pathetic and embarrassing, it would be offensive. There’s also about three songs (one for each main character) that are repeated ad nauseum throughout the entire movie, which becomes very, very annoying.

As for the positives? Well, the best performance in the movie is by Jacks horse, Whisky. He provides a few moments that almost made the corners of my mouth shift from their downward trajectory. Ann-Margret, despite being an incredibly irritating character (her one character trait seems to be that she loves cock and doesn’t have any problem where she gets it), was a sensational looking woman.

Cactus Jack 3 Arnie is completely miscast and struggles to make a boring, unfunny character remotely interesting or amusing. And he looks all at sea in a cartoonish slapstick comedy. Kirk Douglas bravely tries to make Jack wacky enough to make us laugh, but it just doesn’t work. The jokes are tired, the timing is non-existent, and the direction doesn’t do anything to sell the gags. Actually I just remembered the one exchange that slightly amused me. I’m assuming no one will bother watching this movie (I’d have to question your sanity if you did) that you won’t mind me spoiling it.

Handsome Stranger: I was named after my father.

Charming Jones: He must’ve been quite a man.

Handsome Stranger: I don’t know. I never met him.

Cactus Jack 2And that crap exchange is the best writing in the movie. It really is a brutal experience trying to watch this. I think the only reason I made it through is because the remote was next to the telly and I couldn’t be arsed getting up to get it. Yes, I am that lazy.


Next up, I’ve finally escaped the 70’s and entered the awesome 80’s, which begins with Conan The Barbarian, which for some reason I’ve never seen before. To say that I’ve earned it is an understatement.


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About Judge Droid

In between refining my procrastination skills I talk a lot of shit about movies and such.

57 responses to “The World According to Arnie – Cactus Jack (1979)”

  1. ThereWolf says :

    Jesus wept – if that’s an example of the best writing in Cactus Jack I’ll definitely be steering clear.

    It does ring a bell though, like I’ve tuned in for 10 minutes or so and then chucked it. I surely would’ve remembered Arnie as a cowboy… wouldn’t I?

    • Droid says :

      Yeah, it’s dire.

      I remember seeing about 10 minutes of it on tv when I was about 11 and flicking away from it. Even as a kid it sucked balls.

      Steer clear!

  2. Tom_Bando says :

    It’s pretty dull, it’s over-obvious, it’s-well it’s everything that Droid sez it is. I’m not planning on seeing it again either. I forget-did they overdub Ahnold’s lines in this too? A-M is the one reason to see any of it, and that still is all ya need right there.

    • Droid says :

      No dubbing for Arnie. He gets to butcher his lines and even starts yelling at the horses in German.

      Ann-Margret is very hot in it. But not a good enough reason to sit through it.

  3. Stuntcock Mike says :

    Kudos on that “world according to Arnie” pic.

    “Helloooo tits!” – Arnold

  4. MORBIUS says :

    Whiskey sounds like he’s quite the actor…

    Was it method or did he do a lot of improvisation?

    • Droid says :

      I believe it was method. He would stay in character between takes and if anyone tried to feed him something other than apples or sugar cubes he wouldn’t respond or even acknowledge them.

  5. Stuntcock Mike says :

    Conan next?

    Time to kiss those one star ratings goodbye.

  6. xiphos0311 says :

    Ann Margret is one fine looking women.

  7. herr milflover says :

    I dont believe I’ve ever even heard of this movie before. I’ll make sure that stays that way.

    Considering how much shit you say it is, I was gonna ask you how it even gets one chang, but that pic of Ann Margret is probably the answer, damn she is smooooooooking!

  8. Continentalop says :

    I don’t remember why, but as a kid I do remember liking this movie. Maybe I was just mesmerized by Ann Margret’s wonderful cleavage.

  9. Jarv says :

    Christ that sounds horrid.

    I had exactly this feeling with Galaxina- has humour evolved- and was that shit actually funny 30 years ago?

    Arnie, though, makes fucking horrible comedy- you’ve got Junior to come (yuck), Twins at least raises the odd laugh, same with Kindergarten Cop.

    • Droid says :

      I haven’t seen Twins in a long long time, but I remember it being kinda funny but awfully sentimental.

      Kindergarten Cop I watched again a few years ago and I find it quite funny.

      Junior I’ve seen once and barely remember.

      I’m particularly dreading Jingle All The Way.

      • Jarv says :

        Junior is by far the worst of them. Painfully unfunny shit. It’s Mrs. Jarv’s most hated film of all time.

        Twins is dreadfully sentimental, but Devito provides some chuckles.

        Jingle is atrocious.

        KC isn’t too bad- the action is quite good.

        Last Action Hero is terribly meh.

        Arnie does not do good comedy.

      • Droid says :

        Arnie in a straight up comedy is not good, but Arnie can pull off comedy (ie. one liners) in action movies.

        Commando has loads, as does Running Man.

      • Jarv says :

        See also True Lies and Red Heat.

        Arnie can do one liners in action, but watching him waddle around pretending to be pregnant is a vile and hateful experience.

      • Droid says :

        I think True Lies is his only genuinely successful comedic effort, since I think it’s a spoof. But I’ll wait till I review it to crap on about that.

      • Jarv says :

        Yup, and the comedy doesn’t come down to lines as well- or at least not from Arnie.

        It works well.

      • koutchboom says :

        I don’t mind Jingle All the Way. But it is hard to buy that Arnold would have such a wussy ass kid.

  10. Jarv says :

    You’ve got some horrible shit coming up:

    Conan the Destroyer
    Red Sonja (I like it, but for it being terrible. It isn’t good)

    Then a run of goodness (either Twins is probably the worst, KC, or LAH) before:

    Junior, Jingle all the Way, Batman and Robin, End of Days (it is shit), The Sixth Day (probably the best of them) and Collateral Damage.

    Fucking hell, this is a brave and reckless challenge. I wouldn’t attempt this.

    • Droid says :

      It is true. I reach the summit, stay there for a little while (until True Lies) then plummet in to the fucking abyss of shit.

      It is a reckless challenge I’ve set myself, and I didn’t actually think it all the way through to be honest. I was blinded by the Terminator to True Lies section of his career that garnered many films I love.

      But the machine has been started and cannot be stopped until it is finished. At least I’ve got the 70’s out of the way.

      • Jarv says :

        Fair enough, and to be fair to the post True Lies lot, there is Terminator 3 in there (meh), and End of Days/ 6th Day/ Eraser may be crap, but they’re crap in comparison to the 80’s heyday.

      • Droid says :

        The post True Lies era isn’t unwatchable (apart from Jingle and B&R), they just aren’t that good.

        I’d probably say Eraser is the most fun. But I’ve only seen it once at the cinema (I think I’ve only seen all the post TL flicks once bar T3) so I may be in for a shock. I just remember some really stupid stuff from that movie, like the alligator (“you’re luggage”) and the massive stupid gun.

      • Jarv says :

        That’s spot on.

        The problem with Eraser is that it’s so damned predictable- and there’s some truly woeful CGI.

        But who the fuck ever watched an Arnie film for plot twists?

        It’s not bad, all in all. If I had to rank them I’d do Eraser/ T3 as joint number 1, then 6th Day, then End of Days and the rest nowhere.

      • Droid says :

        Terminator, Predator, Commando, Total Recall, T2, True Lies. I fucking love all of those.

        That’s why I decided to do this I think.

      • Jarv says :

        Even the lesser 80’s Arnies are good though- Red Heat, Raw Deal, Conan (although that’s a premier Arnie).

        To be honest, if you ignore Conan the Destroyer and Red Sonja then you’ve got (from Conan onwards) Conan, Commando, Red Heat, Raw Deal, Terminator, True Lies, Terminator 2 (despite Robodaddy problems), Total Recall, Commando and Predator

        All of those are fucking mint.

      • Droid says :

        I didn’t mention Conan because I’m yet to see them. I’m looking forward to it actually.

        Love Red Heat and The Running Man. I’m not sure about Raw Deal since I’ve only seen it once as a kid.

        I don’t have Robodaddy issues with T2. It’s fucking awesome.

      • Jarv says :

        It does have Robodaddy issues- although there’s more than enough awesomeness to make up for it.

        It didn’t bother me when I first saw it, but when it was on TV last year, those sections do drag.

        I actually think it’s because Edward Furlong isn’t very good.

      • Droid says :

        Well, I’ll consider that when I watch it.

      • Jarv says :

        Don’t get me wrong, there’s still bits of it that are fucking jaw dropping and the effects in particular do still hold up (for the most part).

        Are you going to do T4?

      • Droid says :

        Yep, I’m doing T4. a) It’s got CG Arnie in it in an important role and b) I’m doing the first 3 so I may as well do the 4th one.

      • Jarv says :

        Well, I look forward to a more accurate reappraisal of the sack of shit.

        Are you doing The Simpsons?

      • Droid says :

        Yeah, well I saw it at the cinema and it was fine. I maintain it was better than 3, but I’ll definitely find out for sure soon(ish).

        The Simpsons? You mean Rainier Wolfcastle?

        “Magic ticket, my ass, McBain!”

      • Jarv says :

        Isn’t it president Scharzenegger?

      • Droid says :

        Yeah, in the movie it is.

        I won’t be doing that.

    • Stuntcock Mike says :

      You didn’t like End of Days Jarv?

      I didn’t at first but I caught it on the tube for a second time and loved it.

  11. Droid says :

    Can someone answer me this? How big is Arnies role in “Around the World in 80 Days”?

    Cause I really don’t want to have to watch it. If he’s got a fairly sizeable role then I will, but if it’s just a cameo then I can skip it.

  12. koutchboom says :

    I’ve seen around the world in 80 days. I think you just have to see it for his wig. Its just sort of a bland film. I think he’s got like 2-3 scenes? Maybe one? I don’t fucking remember it at all.

  13. koutchboom says :

    I think you should do the Rundown just to give you break in the later stuff.

  14. Tom_Bando says :

    Raw Deal is okay. You have this one line that I remember Ahnold mangling rather badly: But zey muuhdured und moodiladed her–

    He, in the words of one of my brothers-got to ‘talk too much’ in it. But it still has its moments, plus you get Sam Wanamaker in it. He was pretty good.

  15. georgelbm says :

    That film was absolutly tremendos there is a reason it is a western classic how could you not love it “bloke”

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