THE REIVERS—–1969 hit taken from William Faulkner’s 1962 novel, his last, and winner of a Pulitzer Prize. The picaresque story has a pair of good-natured rascals (Steve McQueen and Rupert Crosse) who take their 11-year-old friend (Mitch Vogel) in his grandpa’s ‘reived’ (stolen) automobile, on a manhood-initiating joyride up through Mississippi to Memphis in the summer of 1905.
“Don’t be rude to Callie, and don’t be advised by Boon. He knows no obstacles, counts no costs, fears no dangers.”
Directed by Mark Rydell, adapted by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Jr., it’s lovingly wrought vintage Americana, with many gem vignettes and rich character bits strewn along the rowdy journey.
Despite being uncomfortable in the part of the bumpkinish ‘Boon’ (essentially second fiddle to young Vogel) and fighting continually with the director, this is one of McQueen’s most appealing roles, his customary cool toughness replaced with a winning gusto. Crosse and Vogel are both excellent, Sharon Farrell charms as required and Will Geer incarnates the Old Southern Grand-dad figure. Great slice-of-life support from Juano Hernandez, Lonny Chapman, Clifton James and Dub Taylor.
Affectionate narration from Burgess Meredith and a lovely score from John Williams bring just the right notes to the wistful nostalgia the picture is steeped in. The ‘Winton Flyer’ was made from the bolts up, especially for the film. Grosses touched $24,300,000.
Crosse was Oscar nominated for Supporting Actor, as was Williams scoring. With Ruth White, Michael Constantine, Diane Ladd, Diane Shalet, Allyn Ann McLerie, Charles Tyner Shug Fisher and John McLiam. 112 minutes. A real pleasure on a lazy afternoon.