Bandolero! (1968)

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Bandolero! Well, it is a funny sounding word.  But it is also a 1968 Western starring Jimmy Stewart and Dean Martin, playing brothers in this one.  Dean is the leader of an unsuccessful band of would-be bank robbers, who after capture in the opening scenes of the picture, are sentenced to hang.

Stewart plays his brother who frees them and attempts to sway Brother Dean away from a life of crime.  Along the way they join forces to combat a Mexican gang of outlaws.  All this while chased by a posse led by George Kennedy.

It isn’t a bad film- regular Saturday afternoon fare.  Dino is always fun to watch.  As with all of his films, it seems at any moment he could turn to the camera and just belt out one of his standards.  However, he doesn’t even sing the title track in this one (It’s instrumental even).

Although a good earner on release, Bandolero! really is a straight formulaic western.  The casting is what elevates this one to above average status.  Dino is a personal favorite.  Jimmy Stewart is definitely not the spry youth of It’s a Wonderful Life but not decrepit yet either.  His delivery and facial expressions do much to almost steal the show from would be star Martin.  And Racquel Welch needs do nothing, which she does exceedingly well here in top eye-candy form.

These three do a pretty good job, buoyed by the acting prowess of Stewart, the looks of Welch, and Martin’s aura.   Martin even tucks his pants into his boots; the only character in the film who does so to my memory.  Even in western wear, he is cool!  Ms. Welch’s lack of acting skills are easily overlooked (except for her final scene- watch it and you will see what I mean) in light of the other two stars, who both turn in fine performances.

Behind the scenes, not to much to note.  The score is Jerry Goldsmith and fits the time period of the 60s – the 1960s that is.  There is a bit of a classic western feel but also bits which feel like attempts to be ‘hip.’  The directing is good if unspectacular.  What is spectacular is the cinematography.  Definitely watch this in widescreen and not a pan and scan cable airing; there are several magnificent outdoor shots.

Bandolero! is a mixed bag of sorts in terms of recommendations as well.  It is not a great picture, but not awful either.  Probably a good one to rent and check out first or sit through on cable if one doesn’t mind the absence of widescreen.  Probably not a needed addition to your personal library though.  It is a lesser entry in Jimmy Stewart’s canon but is one of Dean Martin’s more readily available films on DVD.