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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 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.
As far as I am concerned, "Charro" is a great movie. I am a lifelong fan of Elvis Presley and love actor, Victor French, who has appeared in a lot of television westerns such as "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza". I was thrilled to sit down and watch a film with them both in it. Imagine my surprise and delight to see another of my all-time favorites..Tony Young! When I was a young girl, growing up in England, my parents loved Westerns above all else on television. "Gunslinger" was fantastic and I hadn't seen a man as handsome as Tony Young, since I discovered Elvis. I am also a lover of Western films and think that "Charro" is a darn good movie..great storyline and characters and the music is just great. In fact, the song, "Charro" is one of my favorite Elvis songs and I always play it in the jukebox when I go to a certain hamburger restaurant in the Graceland Plaza area near the mansion, in Memphis. I am saddened to think that all three of these gorgeous men died relatively young. They left so much behind and made a lot of people happy. May they rest in peace.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Most of the actors in this sloppy western are screaming through half
the film. Meanwhile, Elvis stands around looking like a dumb dog
wearing a scratchy beard and a funky hat.
A lame story, a lamer script, and some of the lamest acting (especially by Presley) ever trotted out of a troupe of wannabe actors provides the filler for the near hour and forty-five minutes the viewer must sit through during this exercise in silliness. Advertised as "a different kind of role" for Presley upon its release; this movie was supposed to be the launch of his 'serious' film career. Only one problem, really......
..... Elvis couldn't act his way out of a horse trough.
Vince Hackett (Victor French): You won't be needing my tender care
anymore You're free to go, Jess. Anywhere where the Mexican law or
Mexican federales can't find you. Or any place north where the American
law or the American cavalry can't run you down. You're a famous man,
Jess. Don't ever forget it. Jess Wade (Elvis): I won't.
This was the King's last dramatic role. He seemed a bit stiff, but maybe that was the script he had to work with. It's just not right to have an Elvis movie where he doesn't sing. He's not Clint Eastwood, for gosh sakes, so why try to put him in a spaghetti western? Victor french, whom you may remember from "Highway to Heaven" or "Little House on the Prarie," did a much better job of acting than Elvis.
Maybe the film would have been better if that actually added the Hootchie Kootchie girl, Charo, to the cast.
Famous among Elvis films as the only film in which Elvis appears with facial hair (it's also the only Elvis film in which he does not sing at all). This is actually Elvis' most mediocre western overall, but it isn't his fault. His performance is actually pretty restrained and you can tell that in this, one of his last films, he is trying to reach out to a more realistic mode of acting. It focuses on a gang of outlaws who steal a cannon and Elvis' efforts to reclaim the cannon for the government of Mexico. The problem with the film is that the director doesn't seem to know where to place emphasis, making the whole experience somewhat numbing.
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.
* 1/2 (out of 4)
Elvis plays a gunfighting outlaw who decides to go straight but his old gang pulls him back in to steal a cannon, which is a priceless gem from the Mexican Revolution. I was really excited to see this title since it was said that it was unlike any other Elvis movie. That's certainly true as there's only one song, which is over the opening credits and even Elvis is made to look ugly with an ugly beard and dirty appearance. That, however, is as far as things go because while it was interesting to see a different type of film from Elvis this is still a pretty poor movie when looked at as a straight Western. We've seen this "one last time" thing in thousands of movies and it isn't any fresher here. We've also seen countless gunfights and the ones here come off very laughable and silly. Elvis gets his shot at doing a straight film but sadly he doesn't do too much with it. During the scenes where he's suppose to be a dangerous gunfighter, you can't help but laugh. The direction is also very poor and I usually don't mention the work of extras but they are incredibly bad here as well. Victor French is pretty good in his role but that's about all the film has to offer.
After 30 films of watching Presley sing to everyone including the guy he just beat up, can you imagine trying to take Presley serious in a western? Not for fans like me. This film could have been a hit for Clint Eastwood or John Wayne but Presley...no way. Presley sings only the title song and only a fan with more time on his hands than brain power could sit through the first 30 minutes. Presley was showing obvious signs of extreme boredom during this film and you can tell his movie contracts were close to being finished. The unshaven, dirty western appearance of Presley was not tolerated by fans in 1969 and fans have not changed, So even from the biggest fan, Charro does not come with a recommendation.
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