Friday, June 17, 2016

Sam Whiskey

Year 8, Day 168 - 6/16/16 - Movie #2,368

BEFORE: It's a little over one month until San Diego Comic-Con, and I've started to have the usual stress dreams, right on schedule.  The other night, a dream took me to a combination of a Comic-Con and my high-school reunion, which was being held at some fancy, Disney-like theme park, and my dad was one of my teachers, which makes zero sense.  (And in a dream last night, I was taking my SAT test, and that's usually a good dream, except in this case the question booklet was filled with commercials that made it hard to understand the answer choices...but I think this dream comes from a different place.) 

OK, I was wrong about the Burt Reynolds itinerary - from Texas we move up to Colorado, home of the Platte River and the Denver Mint.  Mexico tomorrow for sure as I wrap up the chain.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "The Train Robbers" (Movie #2,354)

THE PLOT:  Sam Whiskey is seduced away from his career as a gambler by the lovely Laura Breckenridge. She wants him to help her recover a quarter of a million dollars worth of gold bars which her late husband stole.

AFTER: I marked this as a follow-up to the Western I watched 2 weeks ago because the plots are so similar - a woman needs a cowboy's help to get back the gold her (now-dead) husband stole, and he has to assemble a team of men to get it, while other sinister forces are trying to get it first.  Just replace Ann-Margret with Angie Dickinson, and John Wayne with Burt, and there's a lot of overlap - but "Sam Whiskey" was released four years before "The Train Robbers".  

OK, there are some differences, for starters in that John Wayne film we find out that the whole backstory of the wife in question might be just that, a story.  But here it seems genuine.  And the gold in that other film came from a train, while here it comes from a sunken steamboat.  But in both cases the wife claims she wants to give it back to the government, in "The Train Robbers" there was supposedly a reward for returning it, while here the widow Breckenridge is going to be in financial trouble if the gold's not returned to the Denver Mint, and that's just about the same thing.

Well, not exactly.  In this Burt Reynolds caper film, getting the gold is just half the battle, then they've somehow got to get it back inside the Mint in just two days, without anyone knowing.  I mean, you can't just walk up to the Denver Mint and give them gold, that's going to lead to a whole bunch of questions.  So this film becomes, in essence, a "reverse heist" film.   Whoever heard of breaking in to leave money behind?  But that's the original tack taken here.  

The last half-hour thus takes on a sort of "Mission: Impossible" feel, or maybe I should reference another TV series, "The Wild, Wild West", which was essentially a secret agent show set in the Old West, before there were secret agents.  And to pull off this caper, the team has to rely on some technology that (probably) wasn't around in the Old West, like primitive machine guns and underwater diving gear (I'll spot them the helmet, but I'm not sure about the rubber hoses...).  The standard cheat in these cases is to make one character the "inventor" type, so if anyone in the audience spots an anachronism or two, they can just say this guy invented the thing before the guy who really did, it's a form of a dodge.  The other member of the team is the blacksmith, so he's also an expert on metallurgy and (apparently) locksmithing.  

There are a LOT of Burt Reynolds films where his character has relationships with prostitutes, it's not just "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas", and I don't mean anything by this, I'm just sayin'.  Like in "Heat", "Hustle", and (even though I haven't seen them) also "Sharky's Machine", "Rent-a-Cop".  Did I miss any?  Probably.  Although Mrs. Breckinridge here isn't a hooker, she persuades Sam to work for her by making love to him, again and again until he relents, and doesn't that basically amount to the same thing?  

Also starring Angie Dickinson (last seen in "The Chase"), Clint Walker (last seen in "The Dirty Dozen"), Ossie Davis (last seen in "Grumpy Old Men"), William Schallert, Woodrow Parfrey, Rick Davis, Anthony James (last seen in "Blue Thunder"), Del Reeves. 

RATING: 6 out of 10 games of checkers

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