After a professional gambler kills a Confederate soldier, he finds a map pinpointing the location in the desert where stolen army gold bullion is buried and he plans to retrieve it but others are searching for it too.
Branded a coward for surrendering his New Mexico fort to the Confederates without firing a shot, a Union colonel attempts to redeem himself by leading a band of condemned prisoners on a suicide mission to recapture it.
Duffy is a cunning aristocrat of criminals who is hired by Stefane, a young playboy, to hijack a boat carrying several million dollars of his father's fortune. The plot succeeds, with a ... See full summary »
Sergeant Foggers and two Confederate soldiers lay their hands on gold bullion belonging to the army, taking at the same time a certain Ben Akajnian hostage. Then they bury the loot near an isolated waterhole in the desert. Some time later, Lewton Cole, a professional gambler, fights a duel with one of the robbers, kills him and finds the map of the treasure on his body. Stopping at the small town of Integrity, Cole, in order to escape Sheriff Copperud locks him up in his own jail-house, steals his horse and even finds the time to "seduce and abandon" Billee, the sheriff's comely daughter. The indignant father catches up with Lewton, arrests him and grabs the gold. But Foggers and his accomplice attack him, relieve him of the treasure and free Cole...Written by
Well, at least a cult of my friends, who saw this movie at least a dozen times at the drive-in during 1967-68, and learned the dialogue by heart. I finally got a copy of the film (and the soundtrack) about 10 years ago, have viewed it a few times since, and it is still to me one of the great overlooked comedies and westerns. Not comedy-western, which was so overdone in the 60's, but it stands tall in both genres. And it is the film that I watched when I heard of Carroll O'Connor's death. He is nothing short of wonderful in this pre-Archie role. And Coburn as Lewton Cole: perfect, another of his great sly characters.
Yes, "Waterhole #3" is sexist and cynical, and also hilarious and a bold statement of the true "Code of the West," its theme that is brilliantly told by the troubadour, Roger Miller, in song and narration. It can be rightly accused of misogyny, because it dares to show and lampoon the attitudes of the macho old west toward women and not just the pseudo-heroic male violence that was the narrow theme of countless western films. Put in the context of 1967 and the radical changes being ushered in in terms of sexual identities and expressions, I think this film was, if anything, progressive in its provocation. That's sure how we took it. And its cynicism about greed and self-interest was a warning and not an anti-heroic celebration.
But the main thing is that it's a great comedy, with an outstanding ensemble of dramatic character actors dipping their toes in comedic waters to great result: James Whitmore, Tim Carey, Claude Akin, Joan Blondell, and Bruce Dern ("Sure left us bare, ain't that right, John?")
From a true cultist: 10 out of 10
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