In the late 1860s, the outlaw named Henry Lloyd Moon (Jack Nicholson) is about to be hanged in Longhorn, Texas - to the great amusement of the locals, plus the deputy sheriff (Christopher Lloyd) and his sidekick (John Belushi) too.
Moreover, Moon comes under especially close inspection from some of the women in this town, due to a local ordinance dating back to Civil War days.
You see, this ordinance allows a condemned man (short of being a murderer) to be saved from the gallows, if an unmarried lady would marry him - and be responsible for his good behavior.
Thankfully, for Moon, he is saved from hanging by the intervention of Julia Tate (Mary Steenburgen) - because this headstrong southern virgin need’s him to help her work the gold mine, that is situated on her property
Now, over time, both Moon and Julia grow closer and closer together. Apart from the numerous digging in which they both partake in – they entertain other ordinance couples – they get to know one another’s ways – and finally, they develop a mutual distaste for the railroad company, whom wishes to take Julia’s land away from her.
Regrettably, though, when Julia and Moon finally strike gold, out of the wilderness, Moon's old gang of outlaw’s shows up at Moon's home – which is why what next transpires is a rather rancorous affair indeed. As a kafuffle ensues - a gang becomes bemused - the law comes into play - and the railroad has track to lay.
Personalty speaking, I was very charmed by Jack Nicholson's directorial debut 'Goin South'. For a start, it is kind of like a rom-com - even though it was made before this phase was coined. Next, it was interesting to know about the very real law of ordinance partnerships - as after the civil war, men where few in America, decreeing outlaws could be saved by spinsters and such. Plus, on top of that, it was nice to see Jack, John, Chris, Danny, and Mary, all on screen together - back in the day.
However, this does have its drawback.
You see, even though, Jack - as ever - does a fine job playing the outlaw with a heart of gold and mind of dirt - and also - Mary Steenburgen, plays the virgin spinster to a tea. My only problem with this film, is that some of the other members of this cast, wasn’t utilised more fully. Well, come on - there is Belushi, Lloyd, and DeVito, for crying out loud. All great comedic actors, playing subservient roles that any 10th rate stage hand could play. I just wish that Jack could have utilized them more fully.
Now, in my most humble opinion, this could have made this OK comedy-western into a classic comedy western. The pretext was good – the story was good – the directing (by Jack) and camerawork was good too... and that’s why this film is good... just good.
Shame really, I hoped more would have come from these great bunch of smashing thespians. Just look at their past wares, and tell me that as a team this film could not have been gold - so to speak. Belushi, Lloyd and DeVito, are all cartoonish giants in the field of comedy. Jack is the rogue that every woman wants to sink her claws into. And Mary is a diamond whom you would want to see in the rough, hint, hint.
Damn, best get off my soap box now I think, or otherwise you may feel that I do not like 'Goin South'. It is a great film you know - and well worth the watch if you like your seventies films tinged with a class cast, and a nice and simple story-line.
Good movie - but would have liked to have seen it with a bit more sparkle.
THE RATING: B+