By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on July 13, 2019)
Zachariah – Kino-Lorber
Originally billed as “the first electric western”, George Englund’s 1971 curio barely qualifies as a “western”, but it certainly is plugged in, turned-on and far out, man.
Perhaps a more apt title would have been “Billy the Kid vs Siddhartha”. No, seriously-it is (allegedly) based on Herman Hesse’s classic. Well, there is a protagonist, and he does go on a journey…but that’s where the similarities end. Still, I think it’s a hoot, with a screenplay concocted by members of The Firesign Theater (who later fled in horror from the finished product). It does have its moments; mostly musical.
My favorite scene features the original James Gang (Joe Walsh, Dale Peters and Jim Fox) rocking out in the middle of the desert as our hero (John Rubinstein) makes his grand entrance (it presages a scene in Blazing Saddles, where Sherriff Bart tips his hat to Count Basie and orchestra as they perform amidst the sagebrush). Also look for Country Joe and the Fish and fiddler Doug Kershaw. Don Johnson co-stars. Not for all tastes, but cult movie buffs will enjoy it.
Great transfer and enlightening new interview with Rubinstein.