Sunday, June 19, 2016


Year 8, Day 170 - 6/18/16 - Movie #2,370

BEFORE: Almost to Father's Day, and Dad probably likes Westerns, right?  So this makes three in a row, with Raquel Welch carrying over from "100 Rifles".  And that's pretty odd, I had cast members of "The Dirty Dozen", Clint Walker and Jim Brown, in the last two films, and tonight there's a third, George Kennedy.  The connections are all around, so that sort of thing probably happens all the time, I just fail to notice it.  

THE PLOT:  Mace Bishop masquerades as a hangman in order to save his outlaw brother from the gallows, runs to Mexico chased by the sheriff's posse and fights against Mexican bandits.

AFTER: Another day, another Western.  Ho hum, another bank robbery (hey, at least these people know how to take money OUT of a bank, not put it back, like Sam Whiskey...) and another trip down to Mexico to get away from the sheriff.  But it's a dangerous trip through the territory that's overrun with bandits.  

Probably the most ingenious thing was the way that the gang avoided being hanged - usually in one of these films, once they've got the noose around someone's neck, that's it, end of story.  But sometimes a screenwriter finds a way to make what's usually an ending into a new beginning - and I'd never seen it done this way before.  

I suppose it's also a bit notable that the lead characters were the bank robbers, and not the lawmen chasing the bank robbers.  In the Westerns of the 1940's and 50's, I'll bet the lead was always heroic, like Gene Autry or Roy Rogers.  And then at some point there was a subtle shift, leading to the spaghetti Westerns of the 1970's, where Clint Eastwood and others played immoral-ish gunfighters.  I wonder if this film is firmly in the middle and could be seen as representing the shift from heroes to villains...

Jimmy Stewart and Dean Martin play the two brothers, and I guess if you look at them together long enough, they could pass as brothers.  Martin plays Dee, the younger, more wayward one, and Stewart plays Mace, who's supposedly the more honorable one, if you don't count the odd crime of opportunity, like masquerading as a town official, or busting his brother out of jail.  

That's it, no more Westerns on the watchlist, I've cleared the category once again.  I mean, another one could always pop up, and I wouldn't mind seeing "The Hateful 8", as soon as some channel runs it - I'm even holding a slot for it, right around Comic-Con, if the cable channel programmers will comply.  

Also starring James Stewart (last seen in "Vertigo"), Dean Martin (last seen in "What a Way to Go!"), George Kennedy (last seen in "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot"), Andrew Prine, Will Geer (last seen in "Jeremiah Johnson"), Clint Ritchie, Denver Pyle (last seen in "Maverick"), Harey Carey Jr. (last seen in "Gremlins"), Tom Heaton, Rudy Diaz, Sean McClory, Perry Lopez, Don Barry (last seen in "Hooper"), with cameos from Dub Taylor (last seen in "The Cincinnati Kid"), Jock Mahoney (hey, he's that stuntman that was Sally Field's stepfather!).  

RATING: 5 out of 10 saddlebags

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