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Bronsonin this supposed comedy-westernas outlaw leader Matson who
works for crooked banker Victor Buono, helps start the film off on a
high note of action
He and his henchmen attack a stagecoach whose
passengers include Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra
After repulsing the bandits, Zack (Sinatra) discloses a bag containing $100,000, and Joe (Martin) unexpectedly relieves him of the money at gunpoint
In Galveston, Joe deposits the money in a bank run by Harvey Burden (Buono), a thief who has supported Zack's efforts to become the town's gambling king
When Zack arrives in town, Matson tries to kill him, but Joe interferes, saving Zack's life Then Zack learns that Joe intends to compete with him by converting an abandoned riverboat into a gambling saloon Outraged, he raises a gang, intending to take over the boat on opening night But Burden has plans of his own
Much of the plot, such as it is, is taken up with the comic rivalry between Martin and Sinatra, involving with womanizing and gambling The three Stooges doing one of their ancient routines provide a gay moment Anita Ekberg and Ursula Andress are an absolute pleasure to look at And if you want to know the answer of Joe to Ursula's commentary: "You didn't notice what I'm wearing," don't miss this nice, civilized picture
What, I wonder, would a director do on the set of a movie starring Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin? Light their cigarettes? Mix their drinks? Laugh at their jokes? One thing he certainly does not do is play "auteur." The director is present to say "Cut" and "Print," not to pursue his "vision" or any of that arty stuff. "Four for Texas" gave Robert Aldrich a pair of stars who, in terms of popularity, may have been the male equivalent of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford whom he had directed the previous year in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" But whereas Davis and Crawford were passionate enemies, Ol' Blue Eyes and Ol' Dino were the best of buddies, and their movies treated as casually as any of their swingin' Vegas gigs. It was an opportunity to have some fun and get paid doing it. If that fun translated to the screen, fine, but in this movie the cast appears to be entertaining itself while putting the audience to sleep. If Aldrich had no control over Frank and Dino, he compensated by overdirecting Charles Bronson who is as animated--for him--as Bugs Bunny. The whole shebang is a comedy-western, but there are virtually no laughs, only snickers--from the cast, not the audience. In comparison, "Ocean's 11" is some kind of classic.
Meeting each other on a stagecoach full of money where they both defend it
from Matson's attack, Zack Thomas and Joe Jarrett immediately get off to a
bad start when Jarrett steals the money. When the two later come up against
each other in the town where Zack is in charge under the control of the
corrupt banker Harvey Burden. However while they plot against each other,
bigger forces in the town have a much darker conspiracy.
I watched this as a reasonable fan of the rat pack and their cocky, wise-cracking sense of humour that they usually bring to their films. However here that is almost totally lacking. With the exception of the opening 15 minutes, the film is almost totally devoid of fun. The film opens with Jarrett and Thomas against each other in a simple robbery, however it later meanders through cat and mouse games (which don't work) until it gets to the obvious conclusion (which is so lazy that it even ends with Martin saying `and, oh yeah, this is the end').
None of the action or dialogue is even remotely funny or fun. The whole vehicle had the same kind of movement that Martin's steamer displays heavy, sluggish and relentlessly moving forward no matter what, these things are not good qualities in a comedy western. I really wanted to like the film, but there was even too little of value for me. The two leads are OK but really have nothing to work with at all, they have one reasonable scene together at the start but from then they are just freewheeling along. Support from Charles Bronson, Jack Elam, Andrews, Buono and the Three Stooges is all pretty wasted and no one is really given very much to work with at all.
Overall this is an example of a poor film from the Rat Pack lifeless, self indulgent and lacking in fun or wit, made solely on the basis of the two stars being famous and thus bringing an audience with them when the film plays. A bit more wit and sparky dialogue in the script and the loss of some running time could have vastly improved what is really a pretty poor film.
I watched this recently as part of the Ultimate Rat Pack collection that I had purchased a while ago. I couldn't remember if I'd even seen it before although I grew up in the 60s when these flicks were on TV regularly. After viewing I realized why I couldn't remember it...it is singularly unmemorable, unlike Oceans 11 or Robin and the Seven Hoods featured in the same collection. It's a comedy-western that's not particularly funny or all that exciting. Frank and Dean breeze through this thing of course as only they can, mugging,joking almost winking at each other 'ain't we too much' during their scenes together. I'm assuming Robert Aldrich the director was merely there to corral the extras since neither of the main stars attempts to take any direction. This is not to say they are entirely un watchable but even for this kind of thing both have done better. Ursula Andress and Anita Ekberg look spectacular in various revealing outfits and Charles Bronson seems to be the only actor taking the whole thing seriously. The 3 Stooges show up and do a shtick that livens things up after the movie seems to slow to a crawl. Character actors Victor Buono(probably gives the best performance),Jack Elam,Richard Jaekel and a few other familiar faces round out the cast. The plot? Well, who cares really, you're watching this to see Frank and Dean do their thing and to some degree they do, but really it's all somewhat snooze inducing. The film of course is very much of its era when the Rat Pack ruled and smoking, drinking, gambling and womanizing were casually portrayed without any apologies. I do actually enjoy these kind of movies and have built up a collection on DVD over the last while that reflects my nostalgia for that time. I just wish this one was better.
4 for Texas is directed by Robert Aldrich who also co-writes the
screenplay with Teddi Sherman. It stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin,
Anita Ekberg, Ursula Andess and Charles Bronson. Music is by Nelson
Riddle and cinematography by Ernest Laszlo.
Plot follows the shenanigans of two rivals played by Sinatra and Martin who have designs on a waterside casino. Bandido Charles Bronson is on their tails while Ekberg and Andress file in for romantic interests.
Aldrich disliked the film (the director famously couldn't get on with Sinatra), its reputation is decidedly lukewarm and The Three Stooges make an embarrassingly pointless cameo, 4 for Texas is a distinctly average comedy/western. The star power keeps it watchable, with rat packers Deano and Frank constantly trying to score machismo points - Ekberg & Andress lighting up the screen with natural beauty - Bronson in solid villain role, and it's pleasingly photographed by Laszlo. Yet it's a mundane screenplay and the run time needed to be cut by at least half an hour. It's also such a waste to not have Aldrich (is this the same guy who directed Ulzana's Raid and Vera Cruz?) show his skills at action construction, especially since the soggy story needed some perk- me-ups!
One to chalk off of your Aldrich/Rat Pack film lists, then, where once viewed, it's unlikely that anyone but hard core fans of the stars will want to revisit. 5/10
Frank Sinatra plays Texas big-shot who teams up with saloon-owner Dean Martin to thwart an evil banker; Anita Ekberg and Ursula Andress play--what else?--the bosomy love-interests. Comedic western directed and co-written by the uneven Robert Aldrich, who doesn't seem to notice that Sinatra and the gang are running precariously low on steam. Sammy Davis, Jr. and Peter Lawford aren't around this time, but the supporting cast does include Charles Bronson, Richard Jaekel, Mike Mazurki and Victor Buono, as well as a cameo by The Three Stooges (!). Star-vehicle is curiously talky and slow on adventure, not to mention laughs. *1/2 from ****
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
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie has four stars, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Anita Ekberg and
Ursula Andress, so I gave it four stars. Actually two stars are for
Dean Martin's attempts to add humor. Anita and Ursula get one each, but
Frank Sinatra gets no stars.
When the movie opens a group of bandits are attacking a stage-coach. Frank Sinatra is shooting the bandits from the top of the coach, while Dean Martin is shooting them from out the window of the coach. Sinatra has a silly grin on his face as he shoots. There is no indication that he might die any moment or that he is actually killing human beings. He is smiling as if he is just playing a game. Dean Martin also looks totally relaxed and nonchalant, but he is not grinning the way Sinatra is. There is no acting going on here. It is as if the director said to Sinatra, "Smile and shoot the gun." Anybody above the age of ten could have played the scene more realistically.
I understand that Aldrich was upset with Sinatra. He said that Sinatra worked a total of 80 hours over a 38 day period. In other words, he worked about two days a week, for five or six hours a day, over a seven week period. Nice work if you can get it. I wonder if Aldrich used the inappropriate footage in the opening scene as a way of getting revenge on Sinatra, actually purposefully making him look like a bad actor.
While the Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra both have about twenty minutes of scene time in the first half of the movie, Sinatra only has a few quick scenes in the second half until he walks in at the end for the climatic fight scene. I'm also wondering if Aldrich cut down on Sinatra's scenes when he saw that Sinatra was just saying his lines and not acting.
Anita Ekberg was paired with Sinatra, but there was no chemistry there. She is only on-screen for about ten minutes. I suspect that Aldrich cut scenes with her and Sinatra when he saw that they weren't working.
On the other hand, Ursula Andress does connect with Martin and the scenes of him lusting over her may be sexist, but they are practically the only amusing scenes in the film. Just as in the first James Bond movie, "Dr. No." she appears only after the film is half over. Unlike the James Bond movie, she cannot save this film, but she does relieve some of the tedium.
Aldridge is a fantastic director under the right circumstances. "Kiss Me Deadly," "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane," and "Emperor of the North Pole," are my favorites. I suspect that he really wanted to create tension between Sinatra's and Martin's characters, but Sinatra refused and only wanted the rivalry to be good-natured kidding between pals. Apparently, he sought to get Sinatra fired, but failed. The result is a movie that moves at glacier speed and has few surprises, unless you can call the pointless appearance of the Three Stooges, a surprise.
I think only Ursula Andress fans will enjoy this one. She wears some great dresses and appears quite self assured, relaxed and sexy. If you are one, just watch the second half. You won't miss anything.
Check out the cast of this Western: Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, a young (and STUNNING) Ursula Andress, and the Three Stooges. Sounds good, right? Well no... Unfortunately, it really isn't. Despite an eclectic cast and Ursula Andress' face, "4 for Texas" largely fails to entertain. This picture is just too boring and predictable to be worth much. Ursula Andress doesn't show up until the second half, and her sex appeal is greatly underutilized. Similarly, the Three Stooges only get 2-min of screen time, and it is easily the film's high point. For the majority of the movie, you are stuck with a visibly drunk Dean Martin, who is just going through the motions and generally not giving a damn. Frank Sinatra's performance is all right, even if he is just playing himself, but unfortunately, he isn't captivating enough to be an effective leading man. The story is contrived and predictable, but not terrible enough to crack jokes at. I didn't hate this movie, but it was a tedious, largely uneventful watch. This is the kind of picture where I kept waiting for good things to happen, but nothing ever panned out. When the dust settled, "4 for Texas" was a disappointment. Aside from an occasional gawk at Ursula, this was an entirely forgettable waste. Not recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Spaghetti western helmer Sergio Leone worshipped American director
Robert Aldritch, even though Leone's experience as Aldritch's
second-unit director on the Biblical epic "Sodom and Gomorrah (1962)
proved short-lived. After he attained fame and fortune with his
"Dollars" trilogy, Leone said that he owed it all to Aldritch. The
Italian maestro rhapsodized especially over an earlier Aldritch oater
"Vera Cruz" (1954) with Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster. The best part
of Aldritch's "Four For Texas" is the opening gambit. This exciting but
abortive stagecoach robbery foreshadows everything that the Spaghetti
western later espoused as its formula and ideology.
Matson (Charles Bronson of "The Dirty Dozen") and his gang are in hot pursuit after a stagecoach carrying $100-thousand dollars. Galveston entrepreneur Zack Thomas (Frank Sinatra of "Sergeants 3") lies sprawled atop the coach. He shoots at the bad guys with his Winchester repeating rifle, while Joe Jarrett (Dean Martin of "Rio Bravo") rides inside the vehicle. Joe pokes his head and gun arm out the window and racks up his share of kills. Our heroes dispatch at least six of Matson's gang before Matson calls a halt to the pursuit and withdraws to head back to town. One of Matson's cronies, Dobie (Jack Elam of "Once Upon A Time in the West), who appears in pre-Sergio Leone style close-up briefly, warns Matson that their boss, treacherous Harvey Burden (Victor Buono of "The Silencers"), won't be happy that they failed. Without blinking an eye, Matson guns down Dobie, blasting him out of the saddle with one lethal shot. Meanwhile, the stagecoach rider dies from a wound that he received from Matson's men and Zack has to stop a runaway stagecoach. He cannot and the vehicle rolls over with a crash. For the rest of the sequence, Zack and Joe engage in a contest of one-upmanship, the kind of games that Blonde and Tuco played in "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly." First, Joe gets the drop on Zack who no longer has his rifle and takes the money. Second, Zack retrieves an entirely different Winchester rifle that he found cached with the money. He waits until Joe has ridden far enough away so that he can open up on him with his Winchester without fear of retaliatory gunfire. When this occurs, Joe realizes that he is at Zack's mercy. Joe's six-gun lacks the longer more accurate range of Zack's rifle. Zack forces Joe to fork over the fortune. Third, Joe surprises Zack when he palms a derringer concealed inside his Stetson and appropriates the money for the second time. In the first instance, Frank Sinatra behaves like a Spaghetti western anti-hero might as he ignites a cigar and patiently allows Dean Martin to out of range before he wields the Winchester. Sinatra even wears an outfit roughly similar to the togs that 'the Man With No Name' sported. This entire scene is better than anything else in this otherwise mediocre western. "Four for Texas" indulges in the two themes that characterized Italian westerns: (1) a cynical disregard for human life, and (2) an obsession with money that amounts to greed. The setting with its sharply-chiseled mountain peaks rearing up majestically in the background and arid desert stretching for miles in every direction replicates the typical south of the border scenery in spaghetti westerns. Indeed, for all practical purposes, the opening scene in "Four For Texas" qualifies as the only scene with action lensed on location beyond the confines of the studio.
Meanwhile, gluttonous Harvey Burden acts like Zack's friend. What Zack doesn't know is that the President of the Galveston Savings & Trust Bank has Matson and his gang of cutthroats secretly on his payroll. Victor Buono's first scene in Galveston is wonderful. He explains to "Walton's" star Ellen Corby, a widow with another elderly woman in a wheelchair with her, that if he loaned them the money that they requested that eventually he might have to foreclose on them and earn a bad reputation in the process. At about that time, Joe Jarrett shows up in town with the fortune in money sewn into his suit jacket and deposits it in Harvey's bank. Joe and Zack have the oddest friendship that evolves over time once they meet each other's girlfriends. Zack keeps fashion designer Elya Carlson (the voluptuous Swedish beauty Anita Ekberg of "La Dolce Vita") as his main squeeze. Joe hooks up with scantily clad Maxine Richter (Ursula Andress of "Dr. No") who owns a rundown riverboat that Joe helps her convert into a floating casino. Roughly speaking, the time that elapses between Joe's arrival in Galveston until the climactic scene on the docks when Zack and he join forces is equivalent to the time it takes to refurbish Maxine's riverboat.
"Four For Texas" conjures up few surprises to keep you guessing throughout its uneven 115 minutes. Zack and Joe play cat and mouse games, but you know that Frank and Dean couldn't remain at loggerheads for long. The chief bad guy here is Charles Bronson and it takes both of them to whip him. Bronson's death scene on the paddle wheel of the riverboat looks cool. The relationship between Victor Buono and Charles Bronson conceals the only surprise. An unbelievable moment occurs in Galveston that refutes the opening scene where our heroes ruthlessly tried to eliminate the outlaws. Jarrett wings Matson in a restaurant as the evildoer is poised to bushwhack Zack. That Joe and Zack would let Matson live is difficult to swallow, especially after their deadly shooting during the hold-up attempt. The brawl on the docks at the end looks like poor crowd control, but there is another surprise that comes out. However, by this time, "Four For Texas" has sacrificed any dramatic vigor as an interesting western. Unless you're a Rat Packer, skip "Four For Texas."
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