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The Spikes Gang

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Title: The Spikes Gang  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Lee Marvin, Ron Howard, 1974 in film, Robert Beatty, Walter Mirisch, Richard Fleischer, Charles Martin Smith, Arthur Hunnicutt, Noah Beery, Jr., Kiyoshi Kobayashi
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Spikes Gang

The Spikes Gang
File:The Spikes Gang poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Tom Jung
Directed by Richard Fleischer
Produced by Richard Fleischer
Walter Mirisch
Written by Giles Tippette (novel)
Screenplay by Irving Ravetch
Harriet Frank, Jr.
Based on The Bank Robber
Starring Lee Marvin
Gary Grimes
Charles Martin Smith
Ron Howard
Arthur Hunnicutt
Noah Beery, Jr.
Music by Fred Karlin
Cinematography Brian West
Editing by Frank J. Urioste
Ralph E. Winters
Distributed by United Artists
Optimum Releasing
Release date(s) 1974
Running time 96 min.
Language English

The Spikes Gang is a 1974 Mirisch Company motion picture adaptation of the Giles Tippette novel The Bank Robber.


Starring Lee Marvin as an aging bank robber of the American Old West, the film follows his encounters with three coming of age farm boys played by Gary Grimes, Charles Martin Smith, and Ron Howard. Veteran character actors Arthur Hunnicutt and Noah Beery, Jr. both appear in separate "scene stealing" performances.[1]

It was filmed in Tabernas, Almeria, and Andalucia, in Spain.

The production style of director Richard Fleischer received generally favorable reviews.[2] "It was only the second matchup for the director and Marvin and the actor gives a seething, unpredictable performance as the untrustworthy Harry Spikes. You can see why a trio of farmhands, well-played by his co-stars, would want to emulate him; you can also see why they come to resist the lethal charm of his coercion.", wrote one critic.[1]

Ron Howard later praised producer Walter Mirisch saying, "When I...acted in one of his productions, The Spikes Gang, I learned that a prolific and brilliant producer could also be a terrific guy and a wonderful teacher."[3]


Harry Spikes (Lee Marvin) is an aging bank robber of the fading "Old West." Injured and near death, he is found and mended back to health by three impressionable youths who are lifelong friends -- Wil (Gary Grimes), Tod (Charles Martin Smith), and Les (Ron Howard). Later, encouraged by Spikes's reminiscences, they run away from home seeking excitement and easy living.

Reunited with Spikes on several occasions, the boys follow his tutoring, ultimately resulting in the gravest of consequences.


Home media

The film is available in Region 1 DVD-R format, MGM on Demand; also available in Region 2. The VHS version is long out of print.


External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • AllRovi
  • TCM Movie Database
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