Sam Whiskey is an all-round talent, but when the attractive widow Laura offers him a job, he hesitates: he shall salvage gold bars, which Laura's dead husband stole recently, from a sunken ship and secretly bring them back to the mint before they are missed. But how shall he manage to get several hundred pounds of gold into the mint without anyone noticing?Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
So I was sick all weekend, bedridden with the flu and flipping through cable when I stumbled upon the Encore Western Channel, which I watched for hour after hour. For some reason, they were playing a triple-shot of Burt Reynolds westerns: Navajo Joe, The Man who Loved Cat Dancing and Sam Whiskey.
Now I grew up in the Eighties so I missed most of Reynolds movies; last year I hunted down and watched many for which he is best known: Smokey and the Bandit (rip-roaring hilarity), Stroker Ace (yuck), Cannonball Run (meh) and Hooper (my all-time favorite, ridiculously entertaining). I thought I had seen all there was to see from ol' Burt, but Sam Whiskey pleasantly surprised me.
This isn't really a western, it's more like a heist movie set on the frontier. I think the reason some of the other reviewers were disappointed by this one was that they were looking for stagecoach robberies, breakneck horseback riding and wide frontier vistas. While there is some of that, for the most part this film revolves around a "reverse-heist;" In this case, Burt and his team played by Ossie Davis(very funny and amiable as a blacksmith) and Clint Walker (imposing hulk of a man who's gentle on the inside) are trying to return some gold to the US mint. They work out a suitably ingenious and ludicrous scheme (the cornerstone for every caper flick) and work it out.
While the proceedings are executed largely for laughs there are surprising amounts of edge-of-your-seat suspense as various curveballs are thrown our heroes' way. I have to admit I laughed out loud probably five times, which was incredible considering how miserable I felt and how much my sore throat hurt WHEN I LAUGHED. But I forgive the movie for this! I like the overall good-natured and almost lackadaisic nature of the pacing. The film keeps moving and is engaging, but by no means is it in any hurry.
So I would recommend this one to all Burt Reynolds fans, all caper movie fans and generally anyone who is willing to give a 40-year-old easygoing movie a chance.
And as an interesting side-note: As if I didn't already realize that I'd watched westerns all weekend -- I thought that actor Clint Walker looked vaguely familiar but couldn't quite place him. They I looked him up on IMDb...he played the icy bad guy in a Charles Bronson western I'd watched earlier in the weekend, "The White Buffalo." I hadn't placed him because it was such a polar opposite role for him. So in his career he's pulled a heist on the Denver Mint with Burt Reynolds and got into a gunfight with Charles Bronson on the frontier. Not too shabby.
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