4 FOR TEXAS
(director/writer: Robert Aldrich; screenwriters: Teddi Sherman/W.R. Burnett; cinematographer: Ernest Laszlo; editor: Michael Luciano; music: Nelson Riddle; cast: Frank Sinatra (Zack Thomas), Dean Martin (Joe Jarrett), Anita Ekberg (Elya Carlson), Ursula Andress (Maxine Richter), Charles Bronson (Matson), Victor Buono (Harvey Burden), Nick Dennis (Angel), Percy Helton (Railroad Agent), Mike Mazurki (Chad), Richard Jaeckel (Mancini), Edric Connor (Prince George); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Aldrich; Warner Bros.; 1963)
“A stupid and overlong Rat Pack sex comedy Western that bites the dust with hardly any intentional laughs.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A stupid and overlong Rat Pack sex comedy Western that bites the dust with hardly any intentional laughs, only an old lady falling out of wheelchair is the film’s big chuckle. The only good thing about it is the cameo by the aging Three Stooges, but not even they can generate laughs in this stinker–it was only good seeing them in one of their last screen appearances doing one of their old physical acts. It’s directed and written by Robert Aldrich (“Vera Cruz”/”The Dirty Dozen”/”The Frisco Kid”) as if he’s weighed down from all the satire he tries to carry around in his filmmaking saddlebags.
It’s set in the frontier Texas town of Galveston in 1870. Zack Thomas (Frank Sinatra) and Joe Jarrett (Dean Martin)are two con artists who are strangers but fight off a stagecoach robbery by a gang led by Matson (Charles Bronson). Then Joe, in a long game of one-upmanship, gets the last drop on Zack and robs the stagecoach of $100,000 the railroad is giving to Zack for him to open a riverboat casino in wide-open Galveston. Joe returns to Galveston to deposit the stolen loot in the local bank and the rest of this tedious film is about the two hustler kings, Zack and Joe, battling among themselves until joining forces. They then battle with crooked banker Harvey Burden (Victor Buono) and the banker’s gunslinger henchman Matson, while both studs sporting diamond pins are living a hedonistic life as sheiks of the frontier. Zack is fawned over by Elya Carlson (Anita Ekberg), while Joe receives the adulation of Maxine Richter (Ursula Andress). It’s all very chauvinistic and crass, and not a bit funny (even though the snickers from the stars comes through the trite dialogue). The two Rat Pack leaders do their best to make frontier Galveston look like their familiar haunts in Las Vegas, as a result this juvenile “clan” pic is too raunchy for the kiddies and too unbelievable for the grown-ups. However, it should appeal to those lovers of really bad offbeat Westerns.
REVIEWED ON 6/6/2008 GRADE: C