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CHARRO! (director/writer: Charles Marquis Warren; screenwriter: from the short story by Frederic Louis Fox; cinematographer: Ellsworth Fredericks; editor: Al Clark; music: Hugo Montenegro; cast: Elvis Presley (Jess Wade), Ina Balin (Tracey Winters), Victor French (Vince Hackett), Barbara Werle (Mrs. Sara Ramsey), Solomon Sturges (Billy Roy Hackett), Lynn Kellogg (Marcie, saloon girl), James Almanzar (Sheriff); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: G; producer: Charles Marquis Warren; Warner Brothers; 1969)
“Don’t blame the King for this bleak routine western being so stiff, he tries his best, blame writer-director Charles Marquis Warren.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This was the twenty-ninth Elvis film (only one good one-Flaming Star), and his last dramatic role. Don’t blame the King for this bleak routine western being so stiff, he tries his best, blame writer-director Charles Marquis Warren (creator of TV’s Gunsmoke, Rawhide and The Virginian) for being unable to keeps things lively with his static direction. Elvis gets to sing only one song and that’s the title song over the opening credits. It’s based on the short story by Frederic Louis Fox. Of note, Solomon Sturges, who plays the punky brother of the gang leader Victor French, is the son of the great film director Preston Sturges.

Reformed gunslinger Jess Wade (Elvis Presley) is captured by his former gang led by Vince Hackett (Victor French) after deserting them to be with the outlaw’s girl Tracey Winters (Ina Balin) and is framed by them for stealing from the Mexican government their valuable gold-plated “victory cannon.” After telling the King no one leaves their gang they brand his neck with a hot iron, which leaves him with an easily identifiable scar, and cut him loose on foot while informing him that the Mexican federales have a $10,000 reward for his capture.

In this ridiculous western the King, with a beard that keeps changing colors after every scene, a hat that hangs too low over his gunman’s eyes, and a bandanna to cover the scar, has only one bland expression as he seeks to payback the baddies after reconnecting with his old flame Tracey, now running a saloon, and his surrogate dad, the sheriff (James Almanzar), who are located in the nearest town the King makes his way to after given the boot by the gang. It’s barely watchable, possibly even for fans of the King, as Warren has drained all the fun out of it and in its vain attempt to cash in on the Clint Eastwood success in spaghetti westerns by unsuccessfully trying to ape Clint. Taking songs away from Elvis is like an Italian restaurant not serving spaghetti.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”