(1968) James Stewart, Dean Martin, Raquel Welch, George Kennedy, Andrew Prine, Will Geer, Clint Ritchie, Denver Pyle, Harry Carey Jr., Tom Heaton, Rudy Diaz, Jock Mahoney, Sean McGlory, Don “Red” Barry, Guy Raymond, Perry Lopez, Dub Taylor, Big John Hamilton, Bob Adler, John Mitchum, Joseph Patrick Crenshaw, Roy Barcroft
Dean Martin is Dee Bishop, the leader of the despicable Bishop bunch. Infamous for breaking out of jail, Bishop’s gang is finally captured while robbing a bank and killing a man in the process. This town of Val Verde, Texas is tough on crime, and Sheriff July Johnson (George Kennedy) admonishes Dee, “You can’t beg, borrow, steal, buy, break, or pray your way out of my jail.” The Bishops manage to escape anyway.
By some quirk of fate, the Bishops run into the woman (Raquel Welch) they widowed in town, and Dee’s long lost brother (James Stewart).
Though Stewart loathes Martin’s way of life, he plays big brother by getting him out of tight spots and by constantly encouraging him that he’s better than the scum he rides with.
Meanwhile, the relentless sheriff leads his posse of hotheads (Carey, Jr., Pyle, Barry, et al.) into the barren hills of Mexico’s Bandolero Country. Eventually, the posse and the gang cross paths and join forces to fight against the attacking Bandoleros, a merciless band of cutthroats who hate “gringos.”
On the surface, Bandolero appears to be a simple shoot-em-up. Director Andrew V. McLaglen and writer James Lee Barrett (both responsible for Shenandoah) deserve credit for the complex character development of the two brothers, who start out on opposite sides of the moral spectrum, and end up with converging philosophies.
James Stewart and Dean Martin make an unbeatable team. Even in their characters’ vulnerability, they are likeable. Raquel Welch, independent yet impressionable, does well with her role as the widow to Jock Mahoney, who plows beautifully backwards into a potbelly stove.
George Kennedy is in rare form as a soft-spoken but stern man of the law, and Andrew Prine is prodigious as his devoted deputy.
The man to watch for, however, is chaw spittin’, crusty outlaw slob Will Geer. He’s a far cry from his future role as Grandpa Walton, especially when coming close to breaking his nosepicking son’s trigger finger!
Bandolero is not considered a classic film by the critics, but with a perfect mix of comedy and action, it’s awfully entertaining.