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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Something Big (1971)

An outlaw (Dean Martin) and his gang need a Gatling gun in order to rob the treasure of an infamous Mexican bandit (Jose Angel Espinosa). To this end, he makes a deal with a grungy and lonely bandit (Albert Salmi) to get him a woman (women are scarce in the territory) in exchange for the gun. Martin holds up a stagecoach and kidnaps a woman (Honor Blackman, GOLDFINGER) for the lonely outlaw. The problem is ... she's the wife of a Colonel (Brian Keith) in command of the regional cavalry. Comedy westerns are hard to pull off unless they are of the satire/parody kind like THE PALEFACE and BLAZING SADDLES so it's a pleasant surprise to discover this engaging sleeper. It manages to balance its subtle humor without making a shambles of the genre. I don't want to overpraise it, it's rather modest in its aims and execution but I can't deny I was quite taken with it. Martin, playing it fairly straight, is at his most appealing and Keith brings his own brand of solid magnetism while the leading ladies (Blackman, Carol White) are charming. There's a terrific title song by Burt Bacharach and Hal David that the film's composer Marvin Hamlisch incorporates generously into his underscore. With Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., Denver Pyle, Paul Fix and Joyce Van Patten and Judi Meredith are hilarious as a pair of dangerous, man hungry sisters.

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