Fox Home Entertainment presents
"Never mind the hard stuff. We'll just take the paper."- Dee Bishop (Dean Martin)
Stars: Raquel Welch, Dean Martin, James Stewart
Other Stars: George Kennedy, Will Geer, Andrew Prine, Clint Ritchie, Denver Pyle
Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence
Run Time: 01h:46m:25s
Release Date: 2004-03-09
DVD ReviewBandolero! (you have to love the exclamation point in the title) is one of those old school westerns, more concerned with relying on the fading marquee value of its two male leads, and the underused sexiness of Raquel Welch, than offering any sort of dramatic substance. The story forces you to buy the fact that Dean Martin and Jimmy Stewart are brothers, as well as tolerating Raquel Welch sporting a questionable Frito Bandito-ish Mexican accent, making this purely by-the-numbers genre filmmaking from veteran western director Andrew V. McLaglen, who also helmed Stewart in Shenandoah and John Wayne in McLintock. This is the kind of stuff McLaglen pretty much did in his sleep for years, and Bandolero! is largely on autopilot most of the time.
Set in 1867, Martin plays bank robbing hombre Dee Bishop, who ends up in jail (along with his gang) in the dusty town of Val Verde, Texas, after killing a man during a failed robbery. The local law is represented by crusty Sheriff Johnson (George Kennedy), who takes an active interest in hastily stringing up Dee and his gang, in no small part due to his attraction to the widow of the man killed in the bank robbery, bosomy señorita Maria Stoner (Welch). Stewart, as brother Mace Bishop, eventually saunters into Val Verde, masquerading as the hangman, and proceeds to spring Dee and his crew from jail. With Sheriff Johnson and a gun-toting posse hot on their trail, the group heads south into Mexico, and in a tired plot contrivance, take Welch's Stoner along as a hostage-turned-love-interest.
Casting is a real oddity here, and wedged in between a genuine screen icon like Stewart and an out-of-place Martin dressing up and playing cowboys, McLaglen has notably subdued the sex appeal of Welch, who is kept woefully and literally under wraps, so to speak. While a talented actor like Stewart at least makes his scenes somehow watchable, even in a forgettable western like this, Welch's mastery of a south-of-the-border accent is certainly not her strong suit, and I kept hoping the story would require that she suddenly don her furry One Million Years B.C. bikini (aka "the stuff that dreams were made of back in the 1960s"), but it was just not meant to be.
A film like Bandolero! is really a dusty relic from the fading glory days of a Hollywood genre machine that existed long ago and far away, when bloodless shootouts from behind rocks and bawdy saloons were the order of the day, and the only way for bad guys played by likeable mainstream actors (in this case Martin and Stewart) to redeem themselves, and thus become somehow likeable again in the eyes of filmgoers, was to have them go up against some unstoppable third act foe, in this case a grizzly band of banditos.
McLaglen, to his credit, does pull off some fairly beautiful shots of wide open ranges, rocky mesas, craggy box canyons and the like, made it even more attractive by the gorgeous 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, and were it not for the ridiculous casting in this film (I could never ever accept Dean Martin as a bank robber from 1867) the whole thing may have been able to rise up to become something more than the tired holster-wearing horse opera that it is.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D+
|Aspect Ratio||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
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Image Transfer Review: The movie itself may reek a bit, but the transfer is outstanding. Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, Bandolero! looks sharp all the way around. Colors are bright, fleshtones are spot on, and image detail is excellent, despite some recurring edge enhancement.
For its age, this one's a beauty.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided in 2.0 stereo, which sounds suspiciously like an artificially tweaked mono track. There isn't much depth to the presentation, and the lack of any bottom end is sorely missed, but dialogue is always clear.
French and Spanish mono tracks are also included.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Myra Breckinridge, Fantastic Voyage, Fathom, Mother, Jugs & Speed, One Million Years B.C.
Extras Review: Apparently Fox considers a stack of previews (including a Spanish trailer for Bandolero!) more than enough for extras, because that's all that's here.
The disc is cut into 28 chapters, and includes subtitles in Spanish and English.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsThis is one dull horseplay from start to finish, only worth a rental if you're a fan of old-fashioned westerns.
Rich Rosell 2004-03-09