Ad-agency president Dan Edwards who, when he goes to Mexico to celebrate his nineteenth wedding anniversary, winds up getting divorced by mistake - whereupon his wife Valerie marries his ... See full summary »
Sharpshooters Zack Thomas and Joe Jarrett are in a Texan stage-coach and manage to fight off Matson's robber gang, so afterward they can fight over the $100,000 cash carried by a railroad official. Both make it to Galveston, where each, including vexed Matson, meets up with respective accomplices in various dirty schemes. The money keeps changing hands and the scene shifts to a river boat, which should multiply the winnings as a casino, but the crooks and bullets follow.Written by
Like SERGEANTS 3 (1962), the actual running time (115 minutes) of this 1963 Christmas attraction differs from the official one (124 minutes) – although, in this case, it could well be the result of the lopping off of the Prelude, Intermission, Entr’ Acte and Exit Music pieces. While still in essence an overblown and thinly-plotted ego-trip, it’s certainly more entertaining than the Rat Pack’s previous Western outing.
Frank Sinatra’s pampered tycoon character is annoyingly narcissistic at times and Anita Ekberg is just there to abet him and as an added scenery attraction; by contrast, Dean Martin and a sultry Ursula Andress (a role originally intended for Gina Lollobrigida!!) thoroughly enjoy themselves. Director Aldrich also allows two of his previous collaborators free rein: a constantly burping banker (Victor Buono) and Martin’s diminutive bodyguard (Nick Dennis) ham it up mercilessly but result in being definite assets to the proceedings; Charles Bronson is the straight villain and other familiar faces appearing here include Mike Mazurki (as Sinatra’s own dim-witted bodyguard), Richard Jaeckel, Abraham Sofaer, Grady Sutton, etc. The guest appearance by The Three Stooges is cute but hardly outstanding (though Martin does get to slap all three at once!), emerging as a sure sign of the film’s anything-goes attitude!
Again, Aldrich (who apparently intensely disliked Sinatra!) had tackled Westerns that were both terse and significant before – but, here, he seems to have purposely taken a back seat to the stars’ antics (albeit with the occasional inventive visual touch). By the way, none other than Bette Davis declined a part in the film in order to star in yet another horror piece (a phase in her career which, coincidentally, Aldrich himself had spearheaded) – DEAD RINGER (1964; which I own on DVD but have yet to watch) – though it’s hard to see now where she would have fitted in.
All things considered, the film is a colorful and easy-going romp – culminating in a fistfight between the stars, which is followed by them burying the hatchet in order to rout Bronson (whose riverboat demise is a highlight) and Buono, and ending with a double wedding. The Warners DVD contains a short ‘making of” featurette which shows the cast and crew doing their stuff on the set.
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