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The Grey Fox
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10 from PG votes
Release: 18 Mar 1983 /

The Grey Fox

Genre: Biography, Drama, Western
Director: Phillip Borsos,
Stars: , ,
Synopsis: When an aging, but gentlemanly stagecoach robber is released from prison, he decides to go to Canada to become a train robber.

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Critic Reviews

This really is a masterpiece of film - and, unfortunately, largely unknown to the greater film-watching public in the United States. It is beautiful to watch, to listen to (with its soundtrack including both original work by award-winning composer Michael Conway Baker, of Canada, and the Chieftains), and to examine as a chronicle of the period that concluded the Wild West's grasp on the 19th Century and its reach for the 20th.

Bill Miner, the "Gentleman Bandit," was a historical figure whose long prison term for stagecoach robbery left him entirely unprepared (vocationally) for his release back into society - a society that was now devoid of stagecoaches, and beginning to discover the wonders of motorcars and moving pictures.

The 29-year-old director, Phillip Borsos (1953-1995), made this film tribute to the last outlaw of the Wild West and to the region that he lived in. While others might have gone heavy-handed and clichéd in such a production, Borsos' eye and ear both figure significantly in the film's direction, and its numerous examples of originality:

- a senior citizen star (the late Richard Farnsworth - whose Hollywood career had started as a stuntman, in Westerns - playing Bill Miner as a thoughtful and kind gentleman) who even gets to look hunky;

- a respectful treatment of an early 20th Century feminist (played by Jackie Burroughs);

- cinematography that highlights the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, rather than some anonymous California desert;

- a soundtrack that ISN'T Coplandesque (or Morriconesque);

- a 'cowboy picture' where the hero gets the girl, but doesn't get vulgar or trite or even testosterone-driven; AND

- an accurate look at the turn-of-the-century a hundred years ago in a landscape that hasn't entirely disappeared. Yet.

I have hummed the music from its tuneful soundtrack since the first time I saw it in its initial U.S. theatrical release, and have wanted to visit Kamloops, BC, ever since. If you can stand movies without gratuitous pyrotechnics or violence, don't let another day go by without checking out this film classic.

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