Blake Edwards was the eminence grise behind this farce; it might have been better if he had come forth and taken an active role, rather than just oversee matters. Some good laughs, adult dialog, and lots of action in an attempt to capture the same audience that flocked to see CAT BALLOU.
It's 1888 or so and Akins, a renegade cavalry sergeant, robs a fortune in gold from his Army post. His chief aide is scowling Carey, and they are also toting a reluctant hostage, Davis. The bullion is interred in a waterhole in the midst of a vast desert and duly marked on a map. Later, Coburn
arrives on the scene. He's the hero, but just barely, as he doesn't mind cheating and killing to get what he wants, and he wants that map. He gets it then makes his way to the small town of Integrity, Arizona, where he locks up sheriff O'Connor in his own jail and steals a horse. He stops long
enough to make love to O'Connor's comely daughter, Blye, then rides away to find the gold. Blye is incensed that she gave in so easily to Coburn, now that the bounder has tossed her aside, so instead of telling the truth (that she willfully made love with him), she screams that she was raped and
joins O'Connor in the chase to bring Coburn to justice. Coburn finds the gold in the waterhole just as O'Connor and Blye catch up to him. The two men explore the idea of halving the booty, until Akins shows up and takes the gold away from both of them. Coburn returns to Integrity and finds Akins
and his compatriots having a marvelous time at the brothel owned by Blondell. She's a breezy bordello boss who makes sure that her clients get the best service. Coburn wants that gold and joins forces with O'Connor to have a shootout with Akins and his men. In the ensuing fracas, Blondell talks
Davis into grabbing the gold and burying it safely at a location far from town. Blye learns where the gold is and arrives there moments before Coburn. Once they are together, he works with considerable charm on the gorgeous woman, gets her to remove her clothes, then takes the gold--and her
clothes--and rides away. She screams like a banshee as the picture ends, while Coburn makes his way to Mexico where he fully intends to spend all his money getting drunk and drunker. The major problem with this comedy is that it takes too long to get started; viewers spend the first 20 minutes
wondering if it is for real or for fun. And when people can't tell if a film's a comedy or not, it's not. Shot in the Mojave Desert in California, the picture could have used about 10 minutes less time on-screen and about 20 more good jokes to put it into the CAT BALLOU or BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE
SUNDANCE KID category. After years in the TV world ("Batman," etc.), director Graham took the plunge into movies, and the result was hit and miss--with a few more misses than hits. Davis, who was so superb in Elia Kazan's AMERICA, AMERICA, never repeated that success in his many other film
appearances. Good secondary work from Dern, Markland (who was also a stand-up comedian at the time), Whitmore (in a stereotypical role as an officer), and Crosse. The cowpoke is Buzz Henry, who starred in many films before he was a teenager as "Buzzy" Henry and later became a stunt coordinator.
The bartender is played by Jay Ose, one of the best sleight-of-hand magicians in history and one of the founding members of Hollywood's "Magic Castle" before his untimely death.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Blake Edwards was the eminence grise behind this farce; it might have been better if he had come forth and taken an active role, rather than just oversee matters. Some good laughs, adult dialog, and lots of action in an attempt to capture the same audience… (more)