Catlow (1971) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
|With the possible exception of DiCaprio in "The Quick and the Dead", this movie may have the strangest casting ever for a western. The three stars are Richard Crenna as the marshal, Yul Brynner as the affable bad guy, and Leonard Nimoy as a bounty hunter trying to kill Brynner before the marshal can bring him in.|
|Yup, Mr. Spock, that orn'ry ring-tailed varmint, as a rootin'-tootin' six-shooter-totin' sidewinder. Actually, Mr Spock was probably the most realistic cowboy in this. The other two stars didn't even try for any period feel. Brynner was the King of Siam in a cowboy suit with an ill-fitting hat, and Crenna was pretty much Luke McCoy, all a-grinnin' and aw-shucksin' his way through the part.||
|Although it is light-hearted
fare, you can't say that
the film was lacking in dramatic conflict. Brynner, essentially the
hero of the movie, although a bad guy, has to face the following
Do you think that's enough challenge for one man?
Of course, he emerges from the whole adventure unscathed.
In fact, in the final scene Crenna is about to take Yul back to the calaboose when Spock shows up, and shoots Crenna by mistake. Crenna kills Spock. While Crenna lies bleeding to death (not to worry, he'll be OK), Yul steals his badge, deputizes himself, and says "I better take these no-account varmints (his fellow gang members) back to prison", and rides off into the sunset.
That gives you the
general idea. It's an old-fashioned Hollywood western from the period
just before films grew up, so it features plenty of buckaroos with
perfect teeth in neatly-pressed clothing, and stereotyped native
Americans, and is often backed by a stirring score like The
Magnificent Seven, 'ceptin' not so good, consarn it. As another
example of the pre-realistic period presentation, a naked dead body
in the desert, shot by an Indian arrow, looks like a guy sunning on
the beach at Malibu. He doesn't even have a sunburn, let alone
festering sores or signs of putrefaction.
|The film is about 50%
comedy and 50% adventure, filled with plenty of good buddy
camaraderie, and "wah-wah" music in the background when
Crenna and Brynner play their little jokes on each other. Some of the humor is
downright slapstick. When he steals the gold from the Mexican Army,
Brynner fixes up a system where he pulls the soldiers one-by-one off
their mules into the rafters of a building's entryway, where Brynner
waits for them and bops them on the head as they rise, while one of
his own men takes over the mule. They show Brynner bopping about ten
guys, the last four or five in speeded-up motion, like a Keystone Kops
film. Basically, it needed Graham Chapman to come out in his Colonel's
outfit and say "move along, too silly".
Anyway, it's a pleasant diversion, basically a lightweight TV show directed by TV veteran Sam Wanamaker. You might even enjoy it if you can ignore the racial stereotypes which now seem deeply offensive to our more sensitized ears. And how can you pass up the chance to see Mr Spock as a naked cowboy?
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