December 29, 2020 – Tom Hanks plays Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a veteran of the Wars of 1812 and the Civil War, who happens upon a lone orphaned girl during his travels as a news reader, and decides to take her home to her relatives, far away in Castroville, Texas. It is a long, dangerous and eventful journey that will change them both.
Captain Kidd is a dignified, quiet, and formidable man, much admired by his former comrades in arms. He is war weary and has no use for those who continue to fight in the South over old grievances. The girl, Johanna (played by Helena Zengel of “System Crasher”) has been raised by Kiowa raiders who murdered her parents. She speaks Kiowa, a little German, and even less English. She prefers her Kiowa name, Cicida. She is a real handful for Captain Kidd, who is not comfortable taking care of children.
At first Captain Kidd is eager to turn Johanna over to the authorities, but he soon finds out that it will take months for the authorities to get around to returning her to her relatives, so he decides to take her back by himself.
Trouble brews when Almay (Michael Angelo Covino of “The Climb”) and two other desperados attack Kidd and Johanna. Almay wants to possess Johanna and turn her into a prostitute, and he means to kill Kidd to get him out of the way. A desperate gunfight ensues in which Johanna proves to be cool under fire and very resourceful.
Kidd makes his living as an itinerant news reader, since the ability to afford and read newspapers is rare in this part of North Texas in 1870. He reads the news of the day, distilling the news into interesting stories for the entertainment of his audience, who pay 10 cents apiece to hear his performances.
He doesn't just read the news, however, he also tells his audience inspirational stories about people like themselves who have banded together to make their lives better. In one town, where a local warlord has cowed the people into submission, Kidd tells a story that gets the people so riled up that they overthrow the warlord.
During the movie both Johanna and Kidd are haunted by their tragic pasts. Ultimately both of them confront their past lives and decide to move on. This is a moving and inspirational story about two very different people who come together to heal each other, powered by the usual affecting, convincing Tom Hanks performance, ably supported by an effective cast.
I've heard some people predict the end of Western movies like this, but it seems a few of them are still made every year. So, the romance, the danger, and the adventure of the Old West rides on in movies like this, and I like that. This film rates a B.
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