By Richard Winters
My Rating: 4 out of 10
4-Word Review: Frank and Dino vehicle.
Sharp-shooter Zack Thomas (Frank Sinatra) and Joe Jarrett (Dean Martin) fight over a cache of money they come upon after fighting off Matson (Charles Bronson) and his gang from a stage coach attack. Eventually Jarrett takes the money and makes his way to Galveston were the two meet up again and continue their bickering. When Joe fixes up an old riverboat and proceeds to turn it into a casino Zack tries to take it over, but not until Matson tracks him down to seek revenge.
The movie opens nicely with a snappy segment between the quarreling Zack and Joe trapped all alone in the middle of the desert. Their banter is great and it makes the most of each star’s appeal. However, after this the movie proceeds to die and very long, slow death. Absolutely nothing gels and the fragmented story lacks any type of singular voice, or vision. The film is also devoid of much action. There is a fistfight that Zack and Joe have at the end, but from the longshots it is clear that stunt doubles are being used for both men, which kind of takes the fun out of it. There is some potential when the two decide to combine their forces to take on Matson and his gang, but this finale moves along too hastily and the action is as uninspired as the rest of the film.
Martin is engaging and he is one of the film’s few bright spots. Sinatra though is stiff and out-of-place and shows no flair for lighthearted comedy. Apparently director Robert Aldrich and Sinatra did not get along at all and it shows.
The female co-stars don’t fare much better. Anita Eckberg who plays Zack’s love interest Elya amounts to not much more than a tired walk-on. The character has little to say or do and minimal connection to the main plot. Ursala Andress as Joe’s girlfriend Maxine fares better simply because she looks great. I’d say she is more striking here than she was in her most famous role in Dr. No. Her low-cut dress is tantalizing and her tan, curved features have never looked better. The problem though is that there are a few drawn-out romantic scenes between both couples that makes a slow movie drag even more.
Talented character actor Victor Buono is excellent as bank president Harvey Burden. I was impressed with how he managed to hold his own with the rest of the cast despite the fact that he was much younger than all of them. Bronson is effective in the bad guy role and he makes a more interesting villain than he ever did as a good guy.
The Three Stooges appear in a cameo and do their predictable shtick that is strained and forced. Jack Elam who is a veteran support player in many westerns and has a very distinctive cross-eyed gaze is shockingly killed off right at the beginning, which was stupid.
This movie is a perfect example of a big Hollywood production relying too heavily on the star power of its two leads without first having an interesting script for them to work with. The production values are high and it is watchable, but plays itself out in a meandering and pointless fashion.
My Rating: 4 out of 10
Released: December 25, 1963
Runtime: 2Hours 4Minutes
Rated NR (Not Rated)
Director: Robert Aldrich
Studio: Warner Brothers
Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video