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The Legend of McCarthy and Little Bill

average rating is 3 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Feb 9, 2022

Film Reviews
The Legend of McCarthy and Little Bill
Directed by:
Thomas Wheeler
Written by:
Thomas Wheeler
Jack Waldouck, Stan Morgan, Bella Maclean

The Legend of McCarthy and Little Bill is an ambitious comedy-western which plays with common tropes and character types to produce a hit-and-miss short film with some genuine laughs, though moments of drift prevent it from achieving its full potential.


Petty thieves McCarthy (Jack Waldouck) and Little Bill (Stan Morgan) accidentally achieve notoriety when an encounter with famous bounty hunter Buddy Love (Matthew Moorhouse) ends in bloodshed. The pair go on the run, hopelessly unequipped to evade the law, and fellow hunters out for their heads. Their journey across States leads them into encounters with an eccentric cast of characters, as it becomes more and more evident, that they cannot outrun their fate forever…


McCarthy and Little Bill clearly borrows lovingly from the western genre, as well as from Tarantino’s own spaghetti-western inspired films to produce a fun and enjoyable short. The film is brought to life by its colourful characters and impressive cast, all of whom relish in putting on their finest cowboy drawl in a way that infects viewers with the same enthusiasm. The characters themselves are classic staples of wild-west media, and there’s no points for originality to be dished out. But as a fun cowboy romp, it’s hardly a detriment.


The States-spanning story feels largely a vehicle to introduce said characters and move the titular McCarthy and Little Bill into new set pieces with the rest of the cast. The film does stumble upon certain themes and meanings, like loyalty, choosing between love and friendship, and living up to society’s expectations. But by and large, there is little for audiences to sink their teeth into outside of the characters themselves. What the viewer takes out from the film will largely depend on their level of passion for Westerns going in.


Production of the film varies, with the costume design of the characters feeling overly clean and polished as opposed to the gritty, muddy and weathered Wild West the story is supposed to be set in. The sets are also an issue – with one scene in particular very clearly filmed in a modern hotel room which completely kills the immersion. These are the challenges many films with budget restrictions face. However, it is made all the more noticeable by the fact that the film actually has some seriously impressive moments elsewhere. The open landscapes and cabin set are beautiful and scenic, whilst the town in which the film’s big finale takes place is also wonderfully realised. It is an unfortunate reality of filmmaking that negatives often stand out more than positives.


Inconsistencies go beyond the production, with certain chapters of the film balancing its pace and story progression far better than others. The opening of the film with Buddy Love is an engrossing and tense game of cat-and-mouse – which is the film’s highlight. It’s conclusion also provides a rip-roaring and satisfying end. But between these, the film seems to lose focus and drift away from its strengths in chapters 3 and 4 with moments that meander rather than advance, and dialogue that loses the edge demonstrated elsewhere.


There’s a lot of fun to be had with The Legend of McCarthy and Little Bill, and whilst a certain degree of buy-in is required from the audience to forgive its flaws, it will resonate with anyone looking for a colourful cowboy adventure.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Short Film, Web Series
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