The Over-the-Hill Gang (TV Movie 1969) Poster

(1969 TV Movie)

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Laughs and a Tear or Two
clearthunder19 January 2005
A cast of grizzled veterans make this film a joy to watch, if you can get over the script, which falls weak in the midst of skillful actors. Still, 'The Over The Hill Gang' was well-casted by virtue of the fact that virtually all the stars were veterans of Westerns, and played their roles admirably.

This movie is your typical victory for old folks. A band of retired Texas Rangers (the Law Enforcement Rangers, not the baseball team) are called into action by their old boss, Captain Oren Hayes (Pat O'Brien) after dubious town officials rough up his son (Ricky Nelson) and trash his newspaper business. When these three Rangers arrive in town to save the day, slow and well past their prime, they team up against a more powerful and energetic foe. Despite being out-numbered and out-hustled, TOTHG proves that (at least on TV) brains can win over brawn any time, and is always a crowd pleaser. If anything, it is a good family movie that teaches the values of courage in the face of adversity, and that good can overcome evil, no matter how young that evil is.

If you'll notice, you will see some great individual performances. Chill Wills plays a boozing, poker-cheating Texan better than anyone. His facial expressions and his Texas drawl are a delight. Without a doubt, Edgar Buchannon had to be the best semi-blind man with a gun in Hollywood history. Andy Devine, playing a 'bad guy,' didn't even need a good script to be funny. Devine could read the Gettysburg Address and make even the most cantankerous cuss chuckle. And what else can you say about Walter Brennan? Like Chill Wills, Brennan is synonymous with Westerns, and proved that even when he played a straight-man, his part of the script didn't allow him to be so much funny as it did to make you feel good because he was just one of those 'good guys.' Still, it was Gypsy Rose Lee, playing a 'has been' show girl, who turned in the best acting performance.

At the conclusion, the three Texas Rangers, who had not seen each other for many years until their reunion, split up and guided their mounts in different directions for the ride back home. Not knowing when they would 'ride again,' I must admit to shedding a tear or two as those three friends rode into the sunset. The soulful harmonica music completed the emotional scene.

'The Over The Hill Gang' is a fun movie to watch. You won't find Oscar winning performances or dazzling special effects. But you'll feel good when it is over. And that's what it is all about, right?
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Veteran Performers - "B" Movie Script
bsmith55523 June 2003
"The Over the Hill Gang" is interesting if only for its cast of veteran performers. Unfortunately they were saddled with a "B" movie script that doesn't know whether it should be serious or funny. It appears that some scenes were cut out in order to fit the film into a 90 minute TV time slot.

The story has former Texas Ranger Captain Oren Hayes (Pat O'Brien) arriving in town to visit his daughter Hannah (Kristen Nelson) and her husband Jeff (Rick Nelson). He finds Jeff embroiled in a mayorality race with corrupt town boss Nard Lundy (Edward Andrews). When the baddies rough them up, Hayes decides to call on his old Ranger buddies Nash Crawford (Walter Brennan), George Agnew (Chill Wills) and Jason Fitch (Edgar Buchanan) for help. When they arrive they soon realize that their old skills have eroded with age and then decide to fight the bad guys with their wits rather than with force.

Assisting Andrews in his evil deeds are Andy Devine as Judge Polk, Jack Elam as the Sheriff and Myron Healey and Bruce Glover as deputies. Gypsy Rose Lee is also along as a once famous entertainer. Burt Mustin and Billy Benedict appear in minor roles.

It was great to see all of these veteran performers in one film. Most were at or near the end of their careers at the time. It was also interesting to see Rick and Kristen Nelson who in spite of their youth were also at the end of their movie careers. Too bad they couldn't have had better material to work with.

Followed by "The Over The Hill Gang Rides Again" (1970).
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Golden Years
wes-connors17 May 2008
In the modernizing old west, idealistic young married Ricky Nelson (as Jeff Rose) wants to become mayor of his corrupt town. Wife Kris Nelson (as Hannah Rose) is concerned about Mr. Nelson, especially after he gets beat up; to help the Nelsons, her elderly grandfather Pat O'Brien (as Oren Hayes) summons his old Texas Rangers: Walter Brennan (as Nash Crawford), Edgar Buchanan (as Jason Fitch), and Chill Wills (as George Agnew). Then, "The Over-the-Hill Gang" faces off against the less long-in-the-tooth gang led by Mayor Edward Andrews (as Nard Lundy), Judge Andy Devine (as Amos Polk), and Sheriff Jack Elam (as Clyde Barnes). Former burlesque tease Gypsy Rose Lee (as Cassie) provides the old-timers with considerable feminine support; it was her last screen appearance. The ordinary production scores points for casting and story idea, qualities which guaranteed a fair level of success on television.

**** The Over-the-Hill Gang (10/7/69) Jean Yarbrough ~ Walter Brennan, Pat O'Brien, Ricky Nelson, Chill Wills
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Rick Nelson and his wife Kris...and Gypsy Rose Lee WOW!!
Duke-562 June 2004
Made for TV and it looks it...they musta used the Gunsmoke lot...lots of great classic old grandpa Andy Devine as a villain...Jack Elam...which eye do you look at?....and Ricky...It was also GYPSY ROSE LEES final film...she died within a never woulda thought by seeing her here...she looked pretty good. Pat O'Brien...Chill Wills...Edgar (clear your throat)Buchanan and GRANPA McCOY himself WALTER BRENNAN....the villains were really funny. Its fun and nostalgic...and that fight scene with Ricky dodging those fake stunt man hits was the best scene for laffs. Available now on Ebay for one cent plus shipping or pick one up a DOLLAR TREE or 99 cent store near you....
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More Scene Stealing Larceny In This Film.............................
bkoganbing21 December 2008
I do love both of the Over-The-Hill Gang movies mainly because you will never get a chance to see so many scene stealing character actors in one film no matter how hard you look. All these familiar faces, familiar in mostly westerns. I'm betting these guys didn't appear together for the most part before now because it was impossible to have had that much ham in any one film.

Yet comedy director Jean Yarbrough took a chance. So did Walter Brennan who co-produced this along with Danny Thomas and Aaron Spelling. I guess Brennan was not afraid to show his acting chops against some of his fellow best scene stealers.

Pat O'Brien is a former Texas Ranger captain who is retired and visiting his daughter and son-in-law, Kris and Ricky Nelson. Ricky is the editor of the town newspaper who's running for mayor against crooked Edward Andrews the incumbent. Andrews has sheriff Jack Elam and judge Andy Devine in his pocket and pretty well runs things in that Nevada town. After the sheriff and a few thug deputies beat up Ricky, O'Brien summons some of his most trusted former Rangers to action.

The problem is that neither O'Brien nor his former company members have seen much action recently. The other Rangers are Brennan, Chill Wills, and Edgar Buchanan.

Looking at the cast of this film, it's got to be one of the oldest aggregate casts ever assembled. And all of these guys stole more scenes from more stars than any other group you could put together.

Gypsy Rose Lee is even on hand as a saloon owner and rival of Andrews who wants to see him put out of business because he gives honest folks like herself a bad name.

This is a film to be treasured and savored by lovers of westerns and those who just love great character actors.
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It's fun. You see lots of familiar Western faces..
gazzo-224 August 2002
There aren't any surprises, but it's great to have Brennan, Wills, Andy Devine, Buchanon, etc go around the track one more time. Familiar character actors-Bert Mustin, R. Karnes and Harry Swogart(played a bartender on Big Valley, Bonanza, etc 48 times) just add to the nostalgia. Ditto Jack Elam too. Odd to see Rick Nelson in such a bland role, though.

**1/2 outta ****, for the nostalgia.
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many big names stars of Westerns (and other genres )past
disdressed1227 April 2009
this is a pretty decent western with some good comic features many famous names of the genre,such as Walter Brennan,Jack Elam,Edgar Buchanan,Gypsy Lee Rose,Pat O'Brien and Ricky Nelson.all had previously been in earlier westerns and here were in the twilight of their careers.i won't give away the plot,but the title certainly fits the movie and the characters.the actors themselves aren't over the hill,even though their characters may fact,they all put in good performances,though Jack Elam was the best of the bunch,in my thing about the movie i should mention is that it actually felt more like a TV episode than a movie.the version i watched was only 70 minutes.still,it is an entertaining diversion.for me,The Over the Hill Gang is a 6/10
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"No Ranger retires perpendicular!"
classicsoncall28 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If you have a choice of watching only one Western and want to catch a corral full of great character actors of the genre, this would be a good choice. Not so much for the story, but just to get to see Walter Brennan, Edgar Buchanan, Chill Wills, and Andy Devine all in one picture, with a little help from Edward Andrews, Jack Elam and Myron Healey. It might be pretty close to one hundred percent accurate to say that one of these guys appeared in almost every Western made during the '50's and '60's. The puzzler is having Pat O'Brien in charge of the good guys; I can't recall a single other Western he might have appeared in. The other interesting casting decision places Mr. and Mrs. Rick Nelson at the center of the story, with Rick's character Jeff Rose challenging crooked Mayor Lundy (Andrews) in the upcoming election.

The story winds up fairly predictable, made somewhat interesting by Nash Crawford's (Brennan) idea to pit the bad guys against each other via insinuation and innuendo. It was a little too convenient with Jack Elam's deputies knocking each other off, with Mayor Lundy and Tucker (Healey) skipping town when things got a bit heated. A little more thought could have gone into the story to come up with a more dramatic showdown between heroes and villains, but considering their ages, I'd say the good guys probably needed a pass just to finish the picture.

Not a lot of substance here, but for a good old fashioned story one could do worse. It's got a pretty good balance of humor amid the skulduggery, and old time fans of TV and movie Westerns will get a kick out of seeing all the Rangers in one place at one time. Brazos!
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Gypsy Rose's part is short, but well worth watching.
gypsyjae16 May 2000
A well made TV movie with a typically short performance by Gypsy Rose Lee. This is a somewhat believable western with good writing, acting and direction. Gypsy Rose's part is much too short, but is a pleasure to see. I found the ending a little sad, despite the fact that it should be a happy one. I would recommend this film to any fan of Gypsy Rose, or of western style movies.
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Oldies But Goodies
FightingWesterner2 May 2010
When newspaperman and mayoral candidate Ricky Nelson finds himself the target of his crooked rivals, father-in-law Pat O'Brien gives a call to his old partners in the Texas Rangers, Walter Brennan, Edger Buchanan, and Chill Wills. The only problem is that they're all old as dirt and very rusty when it comes to their law-enforcement skills, making them a laughing stock, but not for long.

Although this has a great concept, it's a little too tongue-in-cheek and devoid of action most of the time. Then again, how much action can you expect from a group of elderly actors? Still, the climax is decent.

A great cast, also including Jack Elam, Andy Devine, and Gypsy Rose Lee (who died soon after), helps make this made-for-television movie way more entertaining than it otherwise would have been.

The next year brought a somewhat superior sequel, followed nineteen years later by a second, Once Upon A Texas Train, in which Elam replaced Buchanan.
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Woulda been a ten but for 1 thing...
frednickertx28 June 2019
No self-respecting Texas Ranger- ex or active-would hang a Texas flag upside down in his private residence or anywhere for that matter. Other than that, it's a great movie showing that greatness that once was may not be the same as ther greatness that is now.
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Calling all cottonballs!
mark.waltz11 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"If your gray, we pay." That must have been the casting call for this TV movie, the "Cocoon" of its day minus the aliens. Actors who looked old in the 1930's, some probably presumed dead, all doing their best to show they still got it. The gathering of western veterans sharing the leading roles (split into quarters) makes this a curiosity from the start. Three time Oscar winner Walter Brennan, grizzled TV uncle Edgar Buchanan, old mule Chill Wills and the plain spoken Pat O'Brien are the four, going up against hot aired Edward Andrews to replace him as mayor with young Rick Nelson. But with squeaky voiced judge Andy Devine and sheriff Jack Elam in Andrews' crooked pocket, it seems unlikely that this odd foursome can get any support, that is until Andrews goes too far with the supporters he has.

With John Carradine and Boris Karloff apparently the only available senior actors not cast, this is filled with nostalgia, coming out at a time when TV audiences definitely needed it. Hatchet faced veteran nosy neighbor Almira Sessions, the eternally old coot Burt Mustin and campy strip teaser Gypsy Rose Lee are other veterans cast in juicy supporting roles. Lee, decked out in pettycoats, lace and feathers, is a campy hoot. Each of the veterans gets a moment to show what they do best,and for that reason alone, this is a must for fans of classic Hollywood. The story is far from complex, the humor moderate and the plot revelation predictable. A sequel would increase the gang with a still dancing Fred Astaire, making me wonder if this was ever thought of as a weekly series.
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William Smith? Where?
yonhope5 March 2005
Hi, Everyone, The title credits list William Smith as "Amos." If William Smith is in this at all, he is one of the bad guys who comes into the movie very late. Each of the new villains is introduced by the mayor who is the chief bad guy. Not one of the outlaws is called "Amos." In one scene, the mayor refers to the Judge (Andy Devine) as "Amos." I think they might have planned to use William Smith in a major way in this movie and maybe he was not available right away. They might have used him as a bad guy at the end, but I am not sure if that is William Smith or someone who bears a resemblance to him. If it is William Smith he does not have a speaking part.

My DVD might be missing some scenes because the length is supposed to be 75 minutes but it is actually just over 70 minutes.

Anyway, the movie was a good idea that was well cast and poorly executed. It is not a comedy movie and it is not a drama, but somewhere in between. This could have been as funny as Laurel and Hardy or The Three Stooges or it could have been a Western as good as Ride The High Country (which also featured Buchanan). It is just another good idea that was sculpted into a meaningless glob of celluloid that will be on display in the Museum of Hollywood's Attempted Classics.

Tom Willett
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An amiable but ridiculous geezer western.
MartinHafer27 December 2012
The reason to see "The Over-the-Hill Gang" has very little to do with the script, as it's clichéd and a bit silly. Instead, you see it to get a chance to see some veteran actors once in their twilight years.

The film begins in the western town of Boulder. A nasty mayor (Edward Andrews) is making it hard for the honest newspaper man to stay and run against him in the election. This ticks off the newspaper guy's uncle (Pat O'Brien) and as a retired Texas Ranger, he decides to call in his decrepit old friends to clean up the town. But, when these guys (Edgar Buchanan, Chill Wills and Walter Brennan) arrive, they are pathetic and no match for the baddies. So, they come up with a plan--to use their wits to defeat the jerks and free the town from their grip.

All in all, this isn't a very good western. The script is often silly and utterly ridiculous. The ending, in particular, is impossible to believe. But, it also isn't without some merit. Seeing these guys as well as Andy Devine is enjoyable for fans of classic Hollywood. For younger audiences, however, it probably just isn't worth your time.
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Not a waste of time
junk-158115 March 2008
Review: Overall, I felt this was a decent way to spend 70+ minutes. I couldn't find a rating for this movie, but think it would probably by PG based on current standards. There was no profanity, no sexual innuendos, and the only violence came at the beginning when Jeff was roughed up by the Deputies and then again during the shoot out at the end. Even within these violent scenes, there was no blood and no one died; again, compared to today's standards, they were very tame.

One minor complaint for my modern ears is that I sometimes had difficulty understanding what the characters were saying. Their old, wild-west accents didn't work too well with my modern, Florida ears.

Bruce gives this movie 2 out of 5 stars. He says it was reasonable entertainment for the cost of 1/20th of $5 that we paid for the set. In the end though, this movie is rather forgettable and I agree with Bruce. It was definitely worth the $0.25 we paid to have the privilege of owning this movie.
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