Dir: Andrew V. McLaglan - Cast: James Stewart, Dean Martin, Raquel Welch, George Kennedy, Denver Pyle, Will Greer, Harry Carey Jr, Don “Red” Barry, Andrew Prine - Screenplay by J.L. Barrett, based on a story by Stanley Hough
An enjoyable piece of nothing, as one critic put it. Dean Martin & James Stewart are cast against type as bandit brothers, Dee & Mace Bishop, and they’re not the kind of rascals who steal from the rich to help the poor. They’re selfish, mean and lethal, but note that the movie is basically a comedy. Dino is as charming as ever, smiling his trademark winning smile, while Jimmy is mainly poking fun at himself, walking and talking slowly, commenting his own and his little brother’s actions with a knowing smile.
Of course Mace saves his brother and his men from the gallows, but before riding out of town, he also robs the bank. With virtually all townspeople in hot pursuit of the escaped convicts, it seemed a logical thing to do, as he explains much later into the movie:
“The bank was there and I was there, and there wasn't very much of anybody else there ... so it just seemed like the thing to do.”
The kind-hearted sheriff (Kennedy) is on the trail of the two brothers, not only to arrest them and get the townspeople’s money back, but also because he has the hots for the woman they took with them as a hostage, Mrs. Stoner (Raquel), the richest women in the area after the gang has shot her husband. And then there’s also a gang of Mexican bandits, the bandoleros who gave the film its title. They all meet in a small Mexican town for large-scale shootout that will leave very few alive.
|Raquel has other qualities ...|
Note: Some have suggested that the movie was influenced by the spaghetti westerns. In spite of the comedy it is quite violent and the soundtrack, by Jerry Goldsmith, is dominated by a laconic whistling theme and some of the upbeat tunes we know from Morricone’s scores for the Dollar movies. There are a few similarities to the Enzo G. Castellari’s caper movies in spaghetti western style (often starring an American B-actor like Edd Byrness, John Saxon or Frank Wolff) such as Any Gun Can Play or I came, I saw, I Shot, but they had not yet reached American cinemas when Bandolero! was filmed (*), so it might all have been coincidence.
* Any Gun Can Play was released in September 1968 in New York City, three months after Bandolero!
A unpretentious but colourful comedy western with a great cast and some fine cinematography.