When I think of Charles Bronson, I think of 1974’s Death Wish and the multiple over the top sequels it spawned.
Others may associate Bronson more with his work in the Western genre, in particular the 1968 Sergio Leone directed, Once Upon a Time in the West.
But I don’t think there is anyone who immediately associates Charles Bronson with the 1976 Western Rom-Com, From Noon Till Three.
Charles Bronson plays Graham Dorsey, a member of the Buck Bowers gang, a two bit group of outlaws that plan on robbing a bank in Gladstone City. The night before the bank job, Graham has a nightmare about things ending badly for the Buck Bowers gang in Gladstone. The nightmare has Graham noticeably shook, but Graham keeps his premonition to himself.
The next day when Graham and the gang are on their way to Gladstone City, Graham’s horse breaks its leg, which only adds to Graham’s paranoia about the bank job. Graham is going to need his own horse for the robbery, so the gang spot a huge house with a barn on the outskirts of Gladstone City and make a slight detour in hopes that the owner of the house has a horse for sale.
The owner of the house is a widow named Amanda Starbuck (played by Bronson’s real life wife, Jill Ireland). Amanda tells the gang she has no horse to sell, despite their being audible evidence to the contrary. Graham, who at this point wants no part of the bank job after his nightmare and his horse breaking its leg, goes to the barn to investigate Amanda’s claim and when he returns Graham backs up Amanda’s lie saying there is in fact no horse in the barn. This means Buck Bowers and the rest of the gang will have to do the job without Graham… but Buck promises they will double back and pick up Dorsey when they are done, which should be around 3 o’clock.
Graham’s job in the meantime will be to keep an eye on Amanda, who is now a liability since she overheard the gang talking and knows exactly the kind of business the gang has in Gladstone City. This gives Graham and Amanda a chance to get to know one another… and boy do they ever!
Graham and Amanda engage in some afternoon delight. They make love three times, they skinny dip and frolic in a nearby pond, dance a waltz, and even have time to get gussied up and eat some fried chicken… all between the hours of noon and three.
When the clock strikes three, it seems like this whirlwind romance between Graham Dorsey and Amanda Starbuck is about to come to an end… and that’s about the time a young neighbor boy of Amanda’s comes riding up to her house brimming with excitement. The boy tells Amanda about the bank robbery in town and how the men were caught and were going to be hung for their crimes later that day.
This news is music to Graham Dorsey’s ears, who is absolutely head over heels in love with Amanda. But Amanda encourages Graham to see if he can’t help his friends and says that if he doesn’t at least try it will eat away at him for the rest of his life. When Graham reminds her that he has no horse, she tells him to take her one and only horse. Now Graham has no intention of helping his outlaw friends, but figures he can go hang out in a meadow, kill a few hours, then return to his lady love with a BS story about how there was nothing he could do.
What neither Graham nor Amanda were expecting is that one of the members of Buck’s gang who got caught, spilled the beans about Graham being at Starbuck Mansion and there is a posse on their way to apprehend Graham Dorsey.
Thinking on his feet, Graham Dorsey engages in some old school identity theft after he happens upon a traveling dentist know as Dr. Finger. Finger is roughly the same size as Graham, so Graham pulls a gun on Finger, and the two swap clothes and modes of transportation.
Unfortunately for Graham Dorsey, Dr. Finger is wanted for stealing the gold out of people’s teeth… so Graham ends up arrested and sentenced to a year in prison since the authorities believe he is actually Dr. Finger. Still, that’s a better fate than the actual Finger, who is shot dead by the posse as they believed he was the outlaw on the run, Graham Dorsey.
When the posse arrives at Starbuck Mansion to return Amanda’s horse, she sees the dead corpse of who she believes is her lover, Graham Dorsey and passes out. Amanda’s reaction along with the fact that the corpse was wearing her dead husband’s clothes and it doesn’t take long for the people of Gladstone City to start talking and painting Amanda Starbuck as a floozy who consorted with outlaws.
Days later, Amanda decides it is time to face the public… she goes into town to buy some stamps at the post office. From the moment her horse and carriage arrive in town, all eyes are on Amanda. But it isn’t long before the folks of Gladstone City begin to verbally berate her (including a cameo appearance from Mama Fratelli herself, Anne Ramsey). Amanda tries to ignore them, but when the townsfolk begin to physically assault her she screams, stands up and bares her soul… she tells the mob surrounding her that she fell in love with Graham Dorsey that day and how it was the first time she felt alive in years and that she is not ashamed of what happened.
Later that day, the townsfolk come to Starbuck Mansion, Amanda instinctively grabs her shotgun and is ready for round two. But surprisingly, Amanda receives an apology from the very people who attacked her and they even tell her they admire Amanda’s guts and honesty. Among the crowd that heard Amanda’s confession was a writer visiting from New York. The writer offers Amanda a book deal so the rest of the world can learn about Amanda’s story.
A year later, Amanda’s book is a best-seller around the world, there’s even a hit song based on the waltz she and Graham danced too. Gladstone City has been transformed into a tourist attraction. Among the tourists visiting the town, a recently released Graham Dorsey. Graham sporting a fake beard checks out all the attractions Gladstone City has to offer… including the “Grave of Graham Dorsey”. Graham even decides to take the tour of Starbuck Mansion… and it is on the tour that Graham purposely gets separated from the group so he can reunite with Amanda.
But it is not the happy reunion that Graham Dorsey expected. Amanda doesn’t recognize him, even after he removes his fake beard. After all, she thinks the real Graham died more than a year ago and like the rest of the world, she is caught up in the embellished description of Graham from her book. When Graham tries to spit out facts to prove he is Graham Dorsey, it is all information anyone who read Amanda’s book would know. So in order to prove that he is the real Graham Dorsey, Graham whips out his dick… yes, you just read that.
After seeing his penis, Amanda is convinced that Graham Dorsey is who he says he is. But the legend that her story has created and the immortal fame that comes with it means more to her than reuniting with Graham. Amanda tries to pay Graham money to leave, but Graham is not budging. So Amanda does something that will guarantee that the legend will live on forever…
This unique entry in Charles Bronson’s filmography has Shakespearean like qualities and portrayed Bronson in a completely different light than his usual tough guy, vigilante characters. Every Bronson fan should check this one out at least once and do their best to not get the earworm of a song, “Hello and Goodbye”, stuck in their head.