Arnold Week: The Villain (1979)

Known in Australia and the UK as Cactus Jack, this Hal Needham-directed movie — written by Robert G. Kane, who often came up with jokes for Dean Martin’s Celebrity RoastThe Villain is a live-action Road Runner cartoon.

After getting an inheritance from her father Parody (Strother Martin), Charming Jones (Ann-Margret) is under the protection of a Handsome Stranger (Arnold Schwarzenegger) — wearing all of the Lone Ranger costume except for the mask — as she travels the west. The man who delivered all the money to her, Avery Simpson (Jack Elam), wants it all to himself so he hires Cactus Jack Slade (Kirk Douglas) and Nervous Elk (Paul Lynde) to get it. Handsome Stranger wants nothing to do romantically with Ms. Jones, but Cactus Jack is another story.

With Mel Tillis, Ruth Buzzi, Foster Brooks and bad guy of bad guys Robert Tessier in the cast, this was definitely made for me, no matter how silly it becomes.

Needham worked with Douglas before, acting as his stunt double for In Harm’s Way, The War Wagon and The Way West. And if you didn’t get it, the character Avery Jones is a reference to cartoon creators Tex Avery and Chuck Jones.

Even better, the saloon in this movie, Bandit’s Hangout, has the painting from Jerry Reed’s truck as its sign.

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