Yeah, I still watch westerns.
"Bite the bullet" is a 70s western, but although it takes into account, as many revisionist westerns do, the so called "end of the west" scenario it is closer to classic westerns than many other westerns of that period. As "The professionals", another Richard Brooks film, it seems to look for a way to incorporate this new vision of westerns without renouncing to the visuals or narrative of the older breed of westerns.
The film is about a horse race that takes place already in the XXth century, a race that extends over 700 miles of bush and desert. Contestants are a mixed bag. We have two aging cowboys (Gene Hackman and James Coburn), a whore looking for better scenarios (Candice Bergen) a spoiled rich kid that wants to be a cowboy (they finally found some role in which Jan-Michael Vincent is good at), a Mexican and an English gentleman.
Pretty much that's it, although there are enough dangers and adventures ahead. It's a great movie, really. Even better than "The professionals". There are a lot of great things to enjoy, such as the Gene Hackman - James Coburn relationship, the score by Alex North or the amazing landscapes. Esentially, I'd say "Bite the bullet" makes a far better movie than "The professionals" because although they explore similar topics everything is far more relaxed here. The plot is minimal, and the outcome of the race is not that important, and therefore the running time (roughly two hours) can be used for character development or by exploring the ties that develop between the different contestants.