Mace Bishop (James Stewart) masquerades as a hangman in order to save his outlaw brother, Dee (Dean Martin), from the gallows, runs to Mexico chased by Sheriff July Johnson's (George Kennedy's) posse and fights against Mexican bandits.
Posing as a hangman, Mace Bishop (James Stewart) arrives in town with the intention of freeing a gang of outlaws, including his brother, Dee (Dean Martin), from the gallows. Mace urges his younger brother to give up crime. Sheriff July Johnson (George Kennedy) chases the brothers to Mexico. They join forces, however, against a group of Mexican bandits.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
When originally released theatrically in the UK, the BBFC made cuts to secure a 'A' rating. 16 secs of cuts were made to the UK video version for release in 1988 to reduce the attempted rape of Maria by the bandit leader. The cuts were waived for the 2005 DVD. See more »
Jimmy Stewart plays a loner who masquerades as a hangman in order to save the lives of Dee Bishop (Dean Martin) and his gang. Along the way, the gang gets a hold of feisty Mexican bride Maria (Raquel Welch), and keeps her with them so they can have a hostage on hand. Pursuing them DEEP into Mexico is a lawman (George Kennedy) whose mission is rather personal: not only did he not appreciate being made to look foolish, but he's in love with Maria, hoping that he can win her love. The main problem that both pursuers and the pursued have is that they are travelling through bandit country.
And the bandits in this beautifully photographed, widescreen Western are particularly bloodthirsty, giving the film some potent, grisly implied violence.
There's a first rate cast in this one, with Dino and Jimmy supported by other familiar faces like Andrew Prine, Will Geer (an unsurprising scene stealer as a cantankerous aged outlaw), Clint Ritchie, Denver Pyle, Sean McClory, Harry Carey Jr., Don 'Red' Barry, Guy Raymond, Perry Lopez, Jock Mahoney, Dub Taylor, John Mitchum, and Patrick Cranshaw. But it's really the fact that the main roles are played with some nuance that makes the difference in this amiable-enough story. Dino is no hardcore criminal, but always has been a cynic. Jimmy gets to play a character who is a might shadier than others he's played. "It was something to do." The lovely Raquel is a delight, holding her own opposite such talented veterans. And Kennedy is solid in an even-handed portrayal of a very determined man.
Screenplay by genre veteran James Lee Barrett, based on a story by Stanley Hough, while Andrew V. McLaglen, who himself did lots of work in the genre, is in the directors' chair. One of the brightest elements has to be the typically zesty score by Jerry Goldsmith.
Seven out of 10.
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