Jim Brown, Kurt Russell also will be riding tall this week.
Here’s our weekly overview of choice options for home-screen viewing. (Note: All times listed are Eastern.)
Viggo Mortersen plays legendary horseman Frank T. Hopkins in this exciting action-adventure directed by Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger). As we noted in our April 2004 issue: “Hidalgo introduces Hopkins by noting his celebrated triumphs as an endurance rider — including, most famously, his victory in an 1886 long-distance race from Galveston, Texas, to Rutland, Vermont — and detailing his brief career as a star attraction in Buffalo Bill’s traveling revue. But these adventures serve merely as prologue to Hopkins’ death-defying exploits during the 1890 running of the Oceans of Fire race along the gulf of Syria. At the behest of a sheik (Omar Sharif) with a penchant for high-stakes wagering, Hopkins agrees to test Hidalgo, his favorite Mustang, against more than 100 desert-bred steeds in a 3,000-mile run for fame and fortune. For nearly 10 weeks, the American cowboy and his pinto stallion endure broiling heat and occasional sandstorms, often going for one or two days without water. Near the end, Hopkins seriously wonders whether the finish line will ever be more than a taunting mirage. ‘It’s not your usual western,” Mortensen says, “in the sense that most of the action takes place in the Arabian Desert. But like many Westerns — like many stories from many different cultures — it’s a hero’s journey, a classic hero’s story.’” (11:35 a.m. Tuesday, The Movie Channel)
100 Rifles (1969)
During his heyday in the 1960s and ’70s as an action movie star, NFL great Jim Brown earned his spurs in quite a few westerns. In this one, directed by Tom Gries (Will Penny, Breakheart Pass), he plays Lyedecker, an Arizona lawman who heads south of the border to arrest Yaqui Joe (Burt Reynolds), a half-breed bandito leading his people in a revolt against repressive Mexican government forces. Not surprisingly, Lyedecker winds up joining the revolution — after catching the eye of the curvy rebel played by Raquel Welch. Even critic Roger Ebert, who wasn’t a big fan of the movie, was impressed by the chemistry between the male leads: “Brown and Reynolds are good together; Brown has a cool, humorous charm and Reynolds plays to it like the other half of a vaudeville team.” (8:50 p.m. Tuesday, Encore Westerns)
Gary Cooper plays a former Confederate officer who drifts into post-war Dallas, assumes the identity of a lawman from the North — and takes advantage of the opportunity for payback when he goes gunning for the varmints (Steve Cochran, Raymond Massey) who torched his old plantation home. Reed Hadley co-stars as no less a notable than Wild Bill Hickok alongside supporting players Ruth Roman, Barbara Payton, and Leif Erickson. (3 p.m. Thursday, Turner Classic Movies)
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Quentin Tarantino’s second western (after Django Unchained) places an all-star cast — including Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Dern, and Walton Goggins — in a claustrophobic setting (a snowbound stagecoach stopover), then amps the suspense by keeping us guessing: Who’s trying to help a captive outlaw (Jennifer Jason Leigh) make her escape? During a 2015 C&I interview tied to the film, Dern waxed enthusiastic while describing the production as a gathering of a mutual admiration society. “You know,” he said, “I am in a chair every second of every scene that I’m in in the movie. I never leave the chair by the fire, ever. It’s written that way, it stays that way, and it was shot that way. And I was really thrilled when I would look up after a take with, say, just Walton and I in it, and the others could have been in their dressing rooms or wherever, because they weren’t going to work for the next two or three hours. But I would look up after a take, and every one of them was on the set watching the scene. That’s the greatest compliment I’ve ever had.” (9 p.m. Friday, Showtime)