|Rodeo man Lew Lathrop (James Coburn) passes a marquee advertising The Hunting Party, produced by Arthur Gardner, Jules V. Levy, and Arnold Laven, in The Honkers, also produced by Gardner, Levy, and Laven (is that a law office or a producing team?)|
Honkers director and co-write Steve Ihnat, best known as a '60s character actor in things like Siegel's Madigan where he played the unhinged villain, died tragically in Cannes of a heart attack while promoting one of his films, just days before the theatrical premiere of The Honkers. As for the film, it is another in a long line of--mostly forgotten--'70s character studies of flawed or bad men who often exist, work, and play in milieus that hold onto increasingly outdated modes of masculinity. Honkers meanders and repeats itself a little too much for my liking, but concludes in a very satisfyingly (and era-appropriate) downbeat manner. It has some really good, but not falsely sentimental, scenes between Coburn and onscreen son Ted Eccles, along with a lot of interesting local--Carlsbad, NM--color, the exploits of real-life rodeo king Larry Mahan, the welcome presence of Slim Pickens doing what he usually does, and an extremely young, pre-Scientologist Anne Archer as an oil scion who dresses like an Indian princess and drives a Ferrari.
Both Honkers and The Hunting Party feature prolific '70s character player Mitchell Ryan, familiar mostly from Westerns and disguised Westerns such as Monte Walsh, Electra Glide in Blue, and High Plains Drifter, and other superior fare such as The Friends of Eddie Coyle. Another of those good faces we often struggle to match with a name.