Saturday, June 3, 2017

Gunfighters of Casa Grande (1964)

Director: Roy Rowland

Writers: Bordon Chase, Patricia Chase, Clarke Reynolds

Composer: Johnny Douglas

Starring: Alex Nicol, Jorge Mistral, Dick Bentley, Steve Rowland, Phil Posner, Mercedes Alonso, Diana Lorys, Maria Granada, Roberto Rey, Aldo Sambrell, Toni Fuentes, Angel Solano, Pepe Martin

More info: IMDb

Plot: When a gambler wins a Mexican cattle ranch at a game of poker, he plans to drive the herd across the Rio Grande to Texas, sell the cattle and leave the ranch behind. He hires on local hands, but during the drive, the discover that he plans to cheat them.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.


Man, if you read the reviews from boneheads on IMDb you get the idea that this is the worst Western (or movie depending on at least one member) ever made.  I'm sorry to disappoint anyone but it's not even close.  I'd say it's better than average and reasonably entertaining.  The biggest plus is the beautiful Mexican scenery.  Most of this picture is filmed outdoors and that's A-OK by me.  There's enough action to satisfy some of those folks and there's plenty of in-fighting among the group of gunfighters.  That's the good and now the disappointments.  Rojo is the Mexican outlaw with 400 fighting men at his disposal and he's built up to be the looming menace in the background.  His name is dropped many, many times before we finally get to see him in the last act.  It's that long before he shows up.  This character is almost empty as they do nothing to show you he's a bad man except that we're to understand he is.  He looks the part but that's it.  Then our "heroes" dispatch him and his men in less than three minutes near the end of the film.  It's more like two and a half minutes.  So much for Rojo's reputation. 

Some other things that could've been better left this movie lacking.  The score sounds a few years out of date.  That might sound silly for someone to say but this film came out right around the beginning of the Spaghetti Western explosion and those films (Sergio Leone's Dollar Trilogy specifically) became a major influence on the Hollywood Western.  While Hollywood had been making smart, mature Westerns for years, it was the Spaghetti that made them grittier, dangerous and a lot more exciting.  The music that accompanied these films did the same.  I don't think it's fair to blame anyone for the lush Big Valley vibe of this score because it was made in this transitional period but taking the romanticism out of the music and having something more stark would've served this picture better.  There's one more thing that nagged me just a little.  At the beginning of the movie, Joe Daylight (some of the character names in this flick are awful) crosses into Mexico after having robbed a bank or something.  He's being chased by a posse led by a sheriff who stops at the border and says they'll be ready for when he eventually comes back.  That's the last we hear from these guys.  The rest of the movie is about dealing with Rojo and getting their thousands of head of cattle into the US to sell.  I figured they'd meet up with the Sheriff and that would be the end battle.  Had the picture continued after Rojo's defeat, that would've been great but it didn't.  89 minutes was their limit.  It would've been a better movie if they'd kept going.  It's still a decent movie.  Like all movies, watch this one on as big of a screen as you have.  It makes a difference.  Watch it now on YouTube while you can above.  It's a great widescreen print.

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