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Been viewing a lot of Elvis' movies of late, and I must say this is one of his best. Certainly heads over most of his "dumbell" musicals he made in the mid 60's. Somehow his first few films are much better than his later ones. CHARRO has in interesting story line and is done in a professional fashion. By that I mean real locations for the exteriors, which is a switch from the cardboard and rear projection effects of his earlier films. Elvis looks very good here, better than some of his previous efforts. He seemed a bid pudgy in a lot of his musicals, but in this one he's trim and looks great in a beard. He does seem to "sleep walk" thru some of his scenes, and there could have been more action, but it's certainly a better film than some of the video guide books make it. Compare this film with FRANKIE AND JOHNNY; KISSIN' COUSINS; PARADISE, HAWAIIAN STYLE; and especially horrible films like HARUM, SACARUM, and CHARRO looks pretty damn good. If you like Elivs, and why would you be reading this if you weren't then CHARRO is a must see. Too bad he didn't make more like this. His next two were pretty bad. Oh, and the actor who played Billy Roy was a "tad" over-the-top.
One of Elvis' better films. Charro! actually has a pretty good story
and it doesn't have all the sexy girls dancing around Elvis as he
sings. It's a fairly good spaghetti western film even if you are not
crazy about Elvis. I will say that Charro! is right up there with the
movie Flaming Star (another western Elvis film).
I cannot say that Charro! is an outstanding film - it does not have the quality of The Magnificent Seven or The Good, The Bad and the Ugly but Charro! is not unwatchable... it's not that bad of a movie either.
Elvis' acting in the movie Charro! is quite good. He seemed to have his heart into making this film and it shows.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Elvis Presley plays bearded soldier-of-fortune Jess Wade who is framed
for the theft of a historic Mexican Victory cannon in writer & director
Charles Marquis Warren's explosive horse opera "Charro!" by his chief
nemesis Vince Hackett. Victor French has a field day as the obnoxious
villain who sets Elvis up. He uses the cannon to wipe out a platoon of
Mexican Federale troops during a border crossing. Elvis must have grown
progressively tired with making the same old musical comedies with
attractive co-stars where he warbled a song or two. In "Charro!," Elvis
sings only one song, the title tune. He isn't shown singing this song.
Hugo Montenegro provides an outstanding orchestral score with spunk.
Meanwhile, French makes an excellent villain who has no qualms about
killing. He is prepared to murder members of his own gang. After he
captures Jess during a gunfight in a sleepy town and burns his neck
with a branding iron to simulate a bullet crease, Vince lets the word
spread that his former friend stole the cannon. Jess recovers from the
branding, ropes a horse in the wilderness, and then rides back to the
town where his girlfriend, Tracey Winters (Ian Balin of "The
Comancheros") runs a saloon. Furthermore, Jess is friends with the
local lawman, Dan Ramsey (James Almanzar), and he believes Jess had
nothing to do with the theft. No sooner has Elvis arrived in town than
Vince's young, hot-headed brother Billy Ray (Solomon Sturges) shows up
itching for liquor and woman. Jess captures him and Sheriff Ramsay
imprisons him, but Ramsay takes a shot in the arm. Ramsay winds up
bed-ridden while Jess takes over as the town lawman. Vince demands the
release of his brother or he threatens to blast the town to smithereens
with the cannon. Elvis' fans didn't respond to this Spaghetti-style
western. Nevertheless, "Charro!" is a good western.
The movie "Charro!" and the novelization that author Harry Whittington wrote are starkly different. For starters, Jess Wade and Vince Hackett don't know each other in the novel. Furthermore, Vince doesn't frame Jess for the theft of the weapon. Additionally, Vince's gang mows down the Federales as they cross the river with their rifles instead of the cannon. Whittington does have the scene when Jess smashes Billy Roy's head against the jail bars. The sheriff died during his fight with Billy Roy in the novel instead of lingering beside his wife in the movie.
This is a wonderfully unique experience to watch 'The King' in this western-story setting as an ex-outlaw turned good. Elvis plays it straight equipped with a beard to fight his former gang of 'friends' - the leader of which is Victor French in a tour-de-force performance. A fine supporting cast which includes Ina Balin and Solomon Sturges turning in two admirable screen performances, helps to give Elvis' movie career a boost at this point in the 'Comeback' era of his musical oddyssey. "Charro!" is a fresh and uplifting western and is a welcome change to hear EP only sing one song in a movie, and this one is over the opening credits. Elvis delivers a good character portrayal of Jess Wade, and isn't as stereotyped as some of the previous characters from the other films from his mid-60's celluloid repertoire. I think any western/Elvis fan would view this as more than just a 'curiosity piece' because it does turn out to be quite an engaging 94 minutes. You almost forget that it's the man himself on screen who we are so used to watching being surrounded by Girls, Bikini's, Cotton Candy, and racing cars. The movie also features some beautiful Arizona cinematography. Recommended.
This was a pleasant surprise. It was made in 1969, the last year that
Presley made movies. It is the only movie of his 31 where his character
does not sing. Despite this, Presley is able to carry the movie on his
acting ability. He is not quite as cool as Eastwood or Wayne at their
best, but he does deliver a solid and reasonably intense performance.
The first half of the movie is fine as it sets up a confrontation between ex-outlaw Jess Wade (Presley) and the gang that he rode with. Vince (Victor French) the head of the gang is vicious, especially to his own gang members, but he does care about protecting his idiot brother , Billy Roy (Solomon Sturges) so he is at least a two note character.
In the second part of the movie, believability falls apart with the outlaws using a single cannon to threaten to blow up a town. Since artillery range for a cannon at that time was only about a mile, one wonders why the townspeople cannot just figure out which direction the cannon shots are coming from, ride one mile in that direction and arrest the outlaws. By this time outlaw Presley has been made sheriff of the town (apparently, a criminal history did not disqualify him on the job application). For some inexplicable reason, he chooses to hold Billy Ray prisoner for shooting the previous sheriff, but does not arrest his brother, gang leader Vince, for kidnapping, torture, and blowing up half the town, among other felony crimes. Jess might have thought to study some legal books before becoming sheriff.
In the second half, the movie loses its lyrical quality and resembles an average ho-hum episode of "Gunsmoke" or "Bonanza." What this proves is that Presley had the ability to make quality movies, but he was not good in selecting his material. Still, for Western fans, it is reasonably entertaining, a grade "C" entertainment, made into a "B" one by Presley.
Jess Wade (Elvis Presley in a straight role , being the only character
in which he wears beard) is a reformed outlaw confronting against the
members of his old band . The violent band is commanded by Hackett
(Victor French of House of prairie) and the hoodlums are Gunner (James
B Sikking, future TV star) and his brother Billy (Salomon Sturges, son
of famed director Preston Sturges), among others . The gang has robbed
from a little town a gold-plated cannon which was used by Emperor
Maximilian in his failed battle against popular Mexican revolutionary
Benito Juarez . Only Jess Wade can save the town people and his
previous girlfriend (Ina Balin , in one of her few movie roles) from
his former bunch .
Elvis in a different kind of role , his third Western after 'Love me Tender' and 'Flamingo Star' ; being shot on location at the Apacheland Movie Ranch . Here was given a new opportunity to prove himself as a serious actor and represented a radical departure for him . He considered an important feature and it's indicated by the choice of supporting cast and director . Elvis did agree , exceptionally , to sing the title credits , but there are no songs within the body of the movie . Elvis sports a scruffy beard and a gritty look whose model was obviously the Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Western . Jess Wade character is costumed similarly to Clint Eastwood's 'Man with no name'. Both wore beard , dust-covered and kept a tough demeanor with a cigar in their mouths . Many of the movie's crew and some members of the Memphis friends grew beards to match Elvis's while the picture was in production . Even Colonel Parker , Elvis's manager , grew his beard .
The motion picture was shot on location in and around Arizona's Superstition mountains . Although the film provided Elvis with one of his opportunities to play tough roles , the movie's producers were nervous about the reaction of fans . However , the film was a modest hit and had awful critiques , it was not particularly well received by the legions of Elvis Presley fans who were disappointed by the lack of musical numbers . In fact , this is the only movie in which Elvis doesn't sing , the only song is the one during the titles . Unfortunately , the picture was a dismal critical flop , much of the blame was placed at the feet of director Charles Marquis Warren . Being final film for this director . He was screenwriter, producer and director for Charro , and had previously directed several successful Westerns for cinema and television .
Released in 1969, "Charro" stars Elvis as Jess Wade, an ex-outlaw whose
former gang seeks to pin the blame on him for stealing a gold cannon
from a Mexican shrine. Wade ends up trying to protect the Arizona town
that holds one of the gang members in jail from the gang's cannon
If nothing else, "Charro" shows that Elvis could've easily been a Western hero in Eastwood's league if he chose to keep with it and got better scripts. Obviously influenced by the rise of the Spaghetti Westerns of the mid-late 60s, this is easily Elvis' best Western of the three he did, the others being 1956' "Love Me Tender" and 1960's "Flaming Star." These prior Westerns had too much of what made Westerns in general laughable before the 60s. There are many exceptions, like "The Last Wagon" from 1956" but -- generally speaking -- the downside of Westerns before the 60s include contrived plot elements, an unrealistic vibe, bad music, white actors playing Natives and dumb Indian dialogue. "Charro" is the least guilty of these sins of Elvis' three Westerns.
"Charro" has a good first and last act, but a weak mid-section. The score and Arizona locations are great, the cast too, but the movie's hampered by the lame second act and a TV-production vibe.
The movie runs 98 minutes and was shot in Apache Junction and Gold Canyon, Arizona, with further studio work done in California.
GRADE: Borderline C+/B- (or 5.5/10)
I like Elvis as much as the next person and enjoy watching his movies more for his music than anything since most of them were so bad (yes there are exceptions that were fairly acceptable, King Creole being my favorite) but this movie was just bad - plus no singing. Stiff acting, poor dialog, thin plot. Just when you think something exciting is going to happen, it doesn't, and then it's 15 minutes until the next almost exciting thing. A better script would have gone a long way in helping this move along. There were just so many blank spaces where you were expecting someone to say something but there was just this long pregnant pause. Sorry but I have to chalk this one up on my least favorite Elvis movies.
the fans know the story...Elvis wanted to make a real WEstern, no
songs. he got it with CHARRO...which could have *used* 2-3! What an
what went wrong? we know the Director/Writer tried to make a Western with Elvis Presley but was forced to do an Elvis Presley Western.
hate to say it, friends...it was Elvis...not that he didn't act well...he didn't act, didn't emote. I'm a big fan but this time I felt sorry for his co-stars, esp. Ina Balin. She plays the Angie Dickinson part.
maybe I gotta sit thru it again. I've seen VIVA LAS VEGAS, TICKLE ME, JAILHOUSE ROCK, KING CREOLE, BLUE HAWAII, FOLLOW THAT DREAM many times..this one, maybe 1.5 times. right now, I gotta say, it's awful. along with PARADISE, HAWAIIAN STYLE I can say they shoulda shelved it.
Not very convincing western, with standard acting from its cast, "Charro!" has a constant homoerotic undercurrent that has been overlooked by almost everybody, not to mention the incestuous tone of the relationship between two villainous brothers. Its real problem is the credibility of the situation (and I do not know much about ballistics), related to a valuable historic cannon that has been stolen from the Mexican army. Presley is framed as the thief and he must clear his name. In the cast, Solomon Sturges (son of famous director Preston Sturges), maybe not a bad actor, overdoes all the scenes he is in (no wonder he had a brief career); Tony Young does a clichéd Latino impersonation, and Ina Balin is as misused as usual.
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