Gone With The West

 (1972 or 1973)

Little Moon and Jud McGraw

(1978 or 1979)

by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

If you believe IMDb, Gone With the West and Little Moon and Jud Mcgraw are the same 1975 movie, with the latter being simply a re-naming for the foreign and video releases. Amazon agrees, except they claim the date should be 1976.

Those facts are not exactly right.

First of all, there are two good reasons why the 1975 or 1976 date cannot be accurate:

    The characters in another movie, Messiah of Evil, attended a movie theater. As they watched the previews of coming attractions, they saw the trailer for Gone With The West. Since Messiah of Evil was released in 1973, Gone With The West had to have been filmed before that.

    The characters in the beginning and end of Little Moon are seen driving a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass. I'm pretty sure that the budget did not include enough petty cash to develop a working time machine, so those scenes had to be filmed in 1978 or 1979 (or later).

Now I will see if you were paying attention. Did you realize that I may have contradicted myself? On the one hand, this film was seen in another film which was released in 1973. On the other hand, some of the scenes included a 1978 automobile. How can both of those facts be accurate? Only one way.

Gone With The West and Little Moon and Jud McGraw are actually two different films.

Well, kinda.

Gone With The West was shot in 1972 or 1973, which explains how its trailer could be seen in another 1973 film. Little Moon was made in 1979 using some of the footage from Gone With The West plus some additional wrap-around scenes shot in 1978 or 1979, thus explaining the 1978 Cutlass.

Here's what happened. Gone With The West was created in 1972, and it turned out to be utterly unwatchable. It's an Old West yarn which is very sparse in the dialogue department and is edited in such a way as to make it difficult, almost impossible, to follow. Some of the scenes were rushed through without sufficient explanation, while some fight scenes and the burning of a town just went on and on for no reason. The burning scene alone lingers for 14 minutes of running time, almost all of it without dialogue. (The creative team built a small Western town and burned every bit of it on camera, so I guess they wanted their money's worth on celluloid.)

It seems that Gone With The West was trying to be a genre spoof, but none of the jokes really work, so it's not even obvious that it is a spoof, except during the final scene, which consists of classically awful 1970s cheese. Stephanie Powers, who had been in character the entire movie as a Spanish-speaking Native American who knew only a few words of heavily-accented English, breaks out of character and says to James Caan, speaking as Stephanie Powers rather than as Little Moon, "You've killed everyone else except the cameraman." Caan then draws his gun and shoots the cameraman, who falls to the ground with the hand-held camera still running, thus rotating the image we see by about 90 degrees clockwise. Caan and Powers then walk off into the sunset. Sideways.

It wasn't just the jokes that failed. Nothing that they tried in this film really worked, and it turned out to be an unreleasable mess. It's now in the public domain, so you can watch it online or legally download it for free if you care to. (The Stephanie Powers nude scene occurs around 15:40.)

The film itself was just as bad in 1979 as it had been in 1972, but a lot of things happened during those intervening years to make the jumbled footage valuable enough to try a re-edit. Th star, James Caan, went from being a virtual nobody to being Sonny Corleone. His sidekick, Stephanie Powers, got through a rough patch in her career and became a star again in the TV series "Hart to Hart." Given those circumstances, some marketing geniuses undoubtedly figured, "Why not re-release the film in 1979 by fixing up the two main problems - short scenes which aren't clear, and long scenes which drag on." And so they shot a framing story about a modern reporter sent out into the desert by his editor to produce a story on ghost towns of the Ol' West. The reporter encounters a crusty old stock Western character who ramps up her authentic frontier gibberish to the Gabby Hayes level as she relates a story about the old days. The story told by the ornery old sidewinder is the same story from Gone With The West, with 16 minutes of fat trimmed from the overlong scenes. Because the colorful old woman was telling the story to the city slicker, the editor was able to use her voice-over to explain the incomprehensible goings-on in some of the too-short scenes. Voila! They created a new movie, Little Moon and Judd McGraw, starring three pretty big stars: Caan, Powers, and Sammy Davis, Jr. The original version of the film ran 92 minutes. The re-release uses 76 minutes of that footage and adds another 6-7 minutes in the framing story.

The most entertaining part of both versions is probably Sammy Davis Jr's extraordinarily eccentric performance as a hipster gunslinger. He dresses entirely in modern leathers which are embellished with a little fringe to make the outfit look kinda-sorta Western. His outfit is so garish and so anachronistic that he makes Cleavon Little's spiffy and contemporaneous "Sheriff Bart" (from Blazing Saddles) seem in comparison to be a Dickensian waif.

In his role as the cocky gunfighter, Sammy performs some twirling and fast-draw tricks in real time, and he's actually brilliant at it. He's so graceful and quick that he probably could really have been a gunslinger. While I'm in the mood to find some silver linings in this cloud, I'll note that Stephanie Powers speaks very good Spanish. Those are about the only good things to be said about these two "sister movies."


Hey, it's in the public domain, but if you just have to own a copy, knock yourself out.

Actually, I think that the additional scenes in the 1978 re-issue are still protected as copyrighted material, even though the original 1972 footage is in the public domain, so you may have to spend a few bucks to see the 1978 version.


There are no reviews online.


3.6 IMDB summary (of 10)

IMDb treats these as a single film.




  • Stephanie Powers shows her butt, albeit far from the camera.
  • Barbara Werle shows her butt very briefly


Web www.scoopy.com

Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, these films are:

F and D

Gone With the West (F) is incomprehensible, amateurish gibberish. Little Moon and Jud McGraw is not as bad simply because it's shorter and has a voice-over to tell you what the hell is going on.