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|Index||25 reviews in total|
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.
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.
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.
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 review may contain spoilers ***
When I first saw Elvis in the film as the bearded desperado Jess Wade,
I thought Wow! - what if his career had taken a turn like, say, Clint
Eastwood's. Elvis Presley as Rowdy Yates on 'Rawhide'. Back when Elvis
was lean and good looking, the independent wrangler approach might have
taken him into spaghetti Westerns, and since he could also sing, one
can only imagine the possibilities.
As it is, Presley provides a fairly competent presence to his character in "Charro!", but as the film wears on, so does he. Though arguably one of his better films, it seems like the thrill is gone at a time in his career when 'The King' was attempting a major comeback. The bearded face does indeed create an amazing transformation of the Elvis persona, and is one of the highlights of the picture. It doesn't go far enough though; without achieving that flat out Lee Van Cleef mean, and matched against an adversary who's also less than sheer malevolence, the movie loses much of it's potential.
The film's finale in fact seems to blow up as quickly as one of those cannon fired dynamite packets. When Vince Hackett (Victor French) falls apart and simply gives up, what the heck happened to Gunner (James Sikking) and Mody (Charles H. Gray)? I mean, they just disappeared! Then, as the town re-groups and Jess prepares for the trip to Mexico, Mrs. Ramsey (Barbara Werle) plants a kiss on him, when in just the prior scene she was ready to beat the snot out of him, blaming him for her husband's death! How exactly did the reconciliation take place?
Even with the disconnects, it was cool seeing Paul Brinegar once again as Doc Opie (there's that 'Rawhide' connection again). Ina Balin, looking radiant and very much like a high school sweetheart of mine, doesn't have much to do here as Presley's romantic interest, but even that seems wasted by the end of the story. Do you think he ever sent for her?
If for no other reason, "Charro!" is worth seeing for a non characteristic look at Elvis Presley in a role that would have served much better at the beginning of his career than near it's end. But that's a whole other conversation. I wonder how Clint would have been in "Jailhouse Rock".
I got a chance to view this flick recently on a local cable channel,and to my surprise since this was an western in utmost sense of the word,I came to like it tremendously. Great acting in all parts,and it was the ONLY movie where Elvis Presley didn't get up on a stage surrounded by lots of girls and sing a lot of songs,but NO siree,here is "the king" finally in a role where he plays a tough guy who gets even with a bunch of rowdies who set him up for something he didn't do. He really does get even here and it shows! It may have been good but here Elvis is damn good and probably the best flick he ever did that was surpassed his career. Even though its is a western it is violent,I mean violent to the core but you gotta love it! This was my all-time Elvis flick and I really enjoyed it! Worth seeing. And if you thought that Elvis was more than a singing and prancing personality with a guitar who is surrounded by lots of girls and its just the music within the whole picture, then you are sadly mistaken!!!! "Charro"! gave Elvis that chance to improve on his acting abilities and here it shows it in grand detail. The ONLY song that he sings is in the beginning of the credits.
Jess Wade(Elvis Presley in a straight role) is a reformed outlaw
confronting against the members of his old band. The violent band is
commanded by Hackett(Victor French, 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 of 'Love me Tender and Flamingo Star'; 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.Unfortunately, the picture was a dismal critical flop , much of the blame was placed at the feet of director Charles Marquis Warren. He was screenwriter, producer and director for Charro , and had previously directed several successful Western for cinema and television.
The only singing you will hear from Elvis Presley in Charro is the
title song over the credits at the beginning. After that Elvis is all
business in Charro!. He even wears a scraggly beard to emphasize this
film won't be your usual Elvis funfest.
I liked the idea that Elvis was expanding his range as an actor and maybe he might have done more westerns after this if Charro! had been good. Presley had done two previous westerns Love Me Tender and Flaming Star and he acquitted himself well in both.
But this one was plain ridiculous. Victor French and his gang which includes his idiot brother Solomon Sturges steal a solid gold cannon from the museum in Chapultepec near Mexico City and then schlep the item to the border where French then proceeds to pin the crime on former gang member Elvis Presley. He even brands him across the neck with a running iron to simulate a bullet wound the leader allegedly got. Now that little journey is about 2/3 the length of Mexico.
Never mind, Elvis captures Sturges and holds him in a jail and gets himself appointed deputy sheriff to make it all legal. Never mind that, French threatens to use the cannon to level the town because he was smart enough to bring powder and shot and has in James Sikking one of Stonewall Jackson's old artillery men.
In that other film about a cannon, The Pride And The Passion the weapon was symbolically a phallic symbol and the illusion is drilled into our heads, especially with the ridiculous ending that Charro! has.
Colonel Tom Parker whose instincts for film properties were pretty good and knew Elvis's type of films were going out of vogue in the late Sixties, tried to take him in a new direction cinematically with Charro!. It was just the wrong western to do.
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