- Directed by Terry Ingram
- Hallmark Channel
A notorious gunfighter who is wounded seeks shelter with a Quaker family.
The Angel and the Badman is a remake of the classic John Wayne Western. “But why?” is my first thought. The goal of any remake should be to improve upon the flaws of the original. Maybe tweak the story here and there to give us something new but not completely unrelated. The thing is the original Angel and the Badman was a near perfect execution of the idea. Aside from the music, there really wasn’t anything wrong with it.
The original is in the public domain because somebody bungled things and didn’t renew the copyright. Maybe that is why. But just because something is in the public domain and you can remake it does not mean you should remake it. Sometimes just let it be.
Lou Diamond Phillips is a fine actor, but he is stepping into some massive legendary shoes to portray Quirt Evans. John Wayne turned in a fantastic performance and Phillips doesn’t do too bad but while John Wayne was dangerous and strong Phillips is merely stern in the part. And not tough guy stern but rather the stern you get from a dad. Evans does not grow as a character because of events. He is rather static. Nothing much changes in him other than where he decides to hang his hat by the end.
And much like in the original Quirt falls in love with the woman that’s taking care of him but why did they change her name to Temperance (Deborah Kara Unger)? Was the name ‘Penelope’ a flaw in the original? She is an okay as an actress but I’m not sure if her character has the same ride or die attitude that Gail Russell had in the part. And truth be told, she is utterly unconvincing as a Quaker woman. And that brings me to something else.
Religion played a large part in the original film, but you would be hard-pressed to know that the family portrayed here in this version are Quakers. There are moments of religion but the religious ideals which they lived that also helped with the change of Quirt are not that big of a deal here. Religion is treated as a background thing. Perhaps that is a byproduct of modern sensibilities or just that someone involved had no experience with religion and could not understand its positive transformative power. Regardless something that helped change the character became insignificant.
And was a sex scene necessary? It’s implied that Quirt and Temperance sleep together in a classic Hollywood fashion. Props for doing it like that. But suggested boinking is lazy shorthand for two characters falling in love. You skip dialogue and interaction with the implication of an orgasm. The original built a relationship during the course of the film with words and actions.
This version follows many of the same beats and has many of the same elements as the original. There are your points where if I played both movies side-by-side for a comparison the dialogue would probably be identical. In those moments it comes off more like a pale, poorly acted imitation than it already does.
And then there are the elements which deviate from the original. For example in the original the rancher neighbor was being a dick with water. Here it’s the town mayor (Garry Chalk) who apparently owns everything and is trying to jack up the rent to force out this barely Quaker family. Come to think of it, did that family even get a last name in this movie?
Dr. Robotnik is not a bad actor but the change from rancher to mayor was insignificant to anything. Once again Quirt used his reputation to make things better but it was done so quickly as if it was a wave of the hand. It impacted Quirts transformation very little
Luke Perry as Loredo (not ‘Laredo’) Stevens faked a tough guy voice and it was kind of goofy. The resolution to the conflict between Loredo and Evans just felt halfhearted. The moment between Loredo and Quirt at the family homestead that was so well done in the classic does not have the same level of tension or parts unsaid as the original does. It establishes a few facts of the story but that’s all it does. Gone is the acting that says more than is actually said.
Worst of all the movie looked cheap. I know poor lighting is done as much for authenticity purposes as it is to hide costs low costs but this it just came off as very cheap. The shots were tight and the background looked uninhabited.
I cannot recommend The Angel and the Badman film at all. With lazy writing, cheap production values, and a lack of chemistry among the leads this is a skip it!