(director: Gordon Douglas; screenwriters: Joseph Landon/Dudley Nichols/from a story by Ernest Haycock; cinematographer: William Clothier; editor: Hugh Fowley; music: Jerry Goldsmith; cast: Stefanie Powers (Mrs. Lucy Mallory), Michael Conners(Hatfield), Red Buttons (Peacock), Van Heflin (Marshal Curly Wilcox), Bob Cummings (Henry Gatewood), Bing Crosby(Doc Boone), Ann-Margret (Dallas), Alex Cord (Ringo Kid), Keenan Wynn (Luke Plummer), Muriel Davidson (Mrs. Ellouise Gatewood), Slim Pickens (Buck), Joseph Hoover (Lieutenant Blanchard), Brad Weston (Matt Plummer) Ned Wynn (Ike Plummer), Hal Lynch (Bartender), Norman Rockwell (Townsman), Walker Edmiston (Cheyenne Wells Fargo Agent); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Martin Rackin; 20th Century-Fox; 1966)
“Mediocre remake of John Ford’s 1939 Western classic.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Gordon Douglas (“Saps at Sea”/”Only the Valiant”) directs this mediocre remake of John Ford’s 1939 Western classic. Writers Dudley Nichols and Joseph Landon base it on a story by Ernest Haycock. The dialogue is stilted, the acting from the miscast stars ranges from hammy performances by Bing Crosby (in his last film) and Bob Cummings to an adequate but non-challenging one by Van,Heflin to a good one by Keenan Wynne. The stars, Alex Cord and Ann-Margret, are wooden, with Cord showing no chops for the charismatic outlaw part that John Wayne made legendary. And, the comedy relief from Red Buttons is dreadful.
Though given a big budget and a lush CinemaScope look while filming in Colorado, the overlong film felt overlong, bungled and witless. Even though Bing is in the house, Wayne Newton sings the title song. A stagecoach on its way from Deadwood to Cheyenne is accompanied part of the way by a detachment of the U. S. Cavalry, as it passes through the area where the Sioux Indians massacred some settlers. The stagecoach driver is Buck (Slim Pickens). Riding shotgun is Marshal Curly Wilcox (Van Heflin). Dallas (Ann-Margret) is a bar dancer tart run out of town by the local army chief after two patrons were killed in the saloon fighting over her. Lucy Mallory (Stefanie Powers) is the genteel pregnant wife of the Cheyenne stationed Captain Mallory. Hatfield (Michael Connors) is a slick professional gambler who served during the Civil War in the Confederate army under Lucy’s father. Peacock (Red Buttons) is a traveling whiskey salesman, with a large family back in St. Louis. Henry Gatewood (Bob Cummings) is a scoundrel who has robbed his father-in-law’s bank of $10,000 and is running away from his possessive wife (Muriel Davidson). On the trail they are joined by the outlaw called the Ringo Kid (Alex Cord), who broke out of jail and is dead set on settling a score with the outlaw Plummer family, headed by the patriarch Luke (Keenan Wynn) and his two sons (Ned Wynn & Brad Weston), who framed him for murdering his father and brother. Ringo is arrested and cuffed by the marshal, even if he’s sympathetic to him. Before reaching Cheyenne the alcoholic Doc Boone sobers up to deliver Lucy’s baby and the stagecoach passengers must repel an attack from an Indian raiding party, as Ringo saves them. In Cheyenne, events lead to Ringo gunning down the three Plummers in a saloon that goes up in flames, and afterwards Ringo is granted permission by the wounded marshal to escape with Dallas. The artist Norman Rockwell does the portraits of the stars that appears in the end credits and has a small part in the film.
REVIEWED ON 8/1/2017 GRADE: C+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/