Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: Bandolero!

I'm not quite sure how I missed so many good Westerns over the years, but here's another of them. On my list of all-time favorite actors, James Stewart lands in third place, right behind John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart. In this one he plays Mace Bishop, a drifter whose brother Dee (Dean Martin) leads an outlaw gang. When Dee and his men are captured after a botched bank robbery and sentenced to be hanged, Mace knows he has to try to rescue Dee even though he doesn't approve of his brother's life of crime. He succeeds in doing so and then accompanies the gang as they flee into Mexico with a beautiful hostage (Raquel Welch) and are pursued by a doggedly determined sheriff (George Kennedy).

That's the plot of BANDOLERO! There aren't any real twists. It's just straight-ahead Western noir with plenty of action and an occasional moment of dark humor to relieve the tension. The real strength of this movie is its cast. I'd watch and enjoy Jimmy Stewart in anything. I just love to listen to him talk. I've always liked Dean Martin in Westerns, too, although I know some people don't. Kennedy is a great supporting actor, and he's not the only one. Andrew Prine does a good job as a young deputy. Will Geer, who usually played kindly old grandpas, is appropriately sinister as an outlaw in this one. Townspeople include Denver Pyle and the iconic Republic Pictures bad guy Roy Barcroft, and one of the members of the posse is Harry Carey Jr.

BANDOLERO! was directed by Andrew McLaglen, son of the great character actor Victor McLaglen. The younger McLaglen helmed a number of John Wayne's pictures in the Sixties and Seventies, and I've always found him to be a dependable, underrated director. His films are never flashy, there's no fancy camera work, but his storytelling is excellent. There are often interesting little bits of business going on in the background if you know to look for them, and his action sequences are top-notch (assisted on this movie by legendary stunt coordinator Hal Needham).

BANDOLERO! is very entertaining and certainly well worth watching. I'm glad I finally got around to it.


13 comments:

Bill Crider said...

Saw this one in the theater long years ago. I agree with you about Stewart and Martin. Like you, I know there are folks who don't like him in westerns, but I'm not one of them. I think he does just fine.

As for Stewart, THE SIX SHOOTER is one of the best western radio shows, and Stewart is the reason why.

tragon11 said...

Also in the cast is Jock Mahoney as Raquel Welch's husband. Jocko, of course was the Range Rider, Yancy Derringer and Tarzan. If you blink you'll miss him in this one. He's killed off in the fist few moments of the movie.

Cullen Gallagher said...

Hi James, BANDOLERO is a terrific picture! I'm glad you reviewed it. I also agree that McLaglen is an underrated director -- GUN THE MAN DOWN, his first feature, is wonderful, and stars James Arness. MAN IN THE VAULT, his second picture, is a great noir movie. I also enjoyed THE LAST HARD MEN.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It is so much easier not to miss movies now, isn't it? It used to take years for them to turn up on TV and then they were ruined by commercials. This is quite a great cast.

RJR said...

I've always loved this movie, and I think Dean Martin does his best work in Westerns--like ROUGH NIGHT IN JERICHO, and FIVE CARD STUD,THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER, and RIO BRAVO.

RJR

wayne d. dundee said...

I'm late getting in, so all I can say is I agree with most points made here. I like Martin in Westerns just fine, and Stewart is always great. And Raquel never looked better and gives an adequate performance ... I haven't seen this one in a while nor do I have it in my library. Thanks, James, now you'll have me hunting it down for another look.

Fred Blosser said...

Re Andrew McLaglen, also a shout-out for THE WILD GEESE, not a western but a superior movie about African mercenaries. Too bad he couldn't have made it 30 years earlier when he could have cast his dad as one of the mercs, but a wonderful lineup of stars anyway: Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Roger Moore, Hardy Krueger, and in a rare role as a villain, Stewart Granger.

David Cranmer said...

We're on the same page this week, James. I reviewed BANDOLERO (and two other Welch Westerns) for Criminal Element and that article should be posted on their site Thursday. I liked the picture and Jimmy Stewart in particular. Especially liked the noir ending.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Dean Martin looks good in a Western and I can see why he makes a fine outlaw in this movie, which I'm going to see now.

Gentry Lee said...

I have always liked James Stewart's western movies. At least the early ones like Naked Spur, Bend of the River, Winchester 73... The latter westerns not so much due to the bad cinematography. I hate the "color" of the movies from the late 60s to 70s. That was the decline of the Hollywood era.

Jeff Flugel said...

I like your taste in actors - Bogart, Wayne and Stewart are my top 3 as well. BANDOLERO is yet another good, solid western from Andrew V. McLaglen with a great cast. Unlike some Duke fans, I'm a fan of many of those 70s westerns he did, most of which were directed by McLaglen. I also second the recommendation for THE WILD GEESE, just a terrific picture all round. Dean Martin always seems more engaged in his western roles, and Stewart is always wonderful.

Frank Campbell said...

I reviewed BANDOLERO! on my blog last year. I enjoyed this one!

RJR said...

WILD GEESE is one of my favorite movies!

RJR