'Bandolero!' DVD Review *** 070605

The Work = ***
So, I’m a sucker for Westerns and Crime Dramas. I’m a movie dork in general but those two genres are personal favorites and I am often more willing to check out even the worst of films if they fit into one or both of those genres. 'Bandolero!' is certainly not the worst of Westerns but it does not, how do you say, have a legendary reputation for being great cinema (and its got a silly title.) Watching it, I thought that the ending was a bit on the weak side but as whole the film was pretty good and was pleasantly surprised with it.

The film really has four leads, Dean Martin, Raquel Welch, George Kennedy and Jimmy Stewart. My goodness what an actor Jimmy Stewart was. Here, in his later years and given not much to go with he is able to somehow sketch a character seemingly from the air. Stewart creates a man who has secrets, most of which will be revealed, and some I suspect he keeps to himself.

Welch looks pretty and acts fiery and does a serviceable job. Martin is a actually a good actor and here he plays the leader of a group of outlaws. His craggy face shows the wear of someone who has been at there game a long time. He has a certain charm in the film and fits the role very, very well. Kennedy is an underrated actor who I’m afraid is only associated with the 'Naked Gun' movies. Of course those are good films but the guy has a pretty wide range and did quite a bit of dramatic acting. (Hell, he won an Oscar for it!)

The film has some twists so how the characters come together I will leave you to discover. Essentially Martin, Welch, and Stewart end up together heading into dangerous country. Martin and Stewart are especially good together and their relationship ends up being the center of the film. 'Bandolero!' is a sort of transitional western.

It was made at the close of the classic westerns made by the like of John Ford and Howard Hawks. Just being released or soon to be released were the films of Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah, even films like 'McCabe & Mrs. Miller' from Robert Altman or 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'. They would prove to be different from the classic westerns. 'Bandolero!' does quite fit in with the old or the new and falls somewhere between.

The conclusion of the film is ultimately unsatisfactory but didn’t entirely ruin the film for me. 'Bandolero!' has a nice look and was pretty to watch. The performances were solid and made this film worth seeing. I wish the ending had been reworked and/or the film had been made a few years later. I say check it out, if nothing else, for Stewart’s performance.

DVD = ***

The Look
'Bandolero!' gets a pretty good transfer. It is a pretty looking film and it is presented in anamorphic widescreen in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

The Sound
English stereo, French and Spanish mono audio tracks are on the DVD. I only reviewed the English track and it sounded decent. Dialogue was clear but some of the sound effects were a bit weak. That may be a product of the source material more than anything else but an optional remix track would have been nice. There are also subtitles in English and Spanish.

The Bonus
We get a domestic and a foreign trailer as well as a couple for some Welch flics’. ('Fathom', 'Myra Breckinridge', etc.) I wish they had dug up something for this film, maybe some featurettes from the period. The trailers are all well and good but DVDs should have more. Why not a commentary from a Stewart biographer and/or a member of the cast and /or crew?

All Together = ***
So 'Bandolero!' probably isn’t what one would call great cinema. I mean what is up with the freaken' title? I can recommend it for the performances and the pretty look. I give it a recommendation but if you are just curious try a rental first.


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