Bandolero! (1968)

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen

While it won’t likely ever be confused with great movies, Bandolero! is quite an entertaining film in a traditional, mid-sixties Hollywood kind of way.

In a way, it’s admirable for it’s meat-and-potatoes approach and execution. It has its heroes and its villains, its shoot-outs and its chases. If you like westerns, you’ll probably enjoy the movie.

If you don’t, this movie won’t change your mind.

Bandolero! has its big stars too. Dean Martin and Jimmy Stewart are two brothers (the Bishops) whose lives have followed different paths. Both are disillusioned; both suffered from losses during “the war.”

After quite a long time apart, they meet up again when Stewart’s character hears some of the Bishop gang have been caught and are being held in Val Verde, where they will hang.

Stewart knows they’re speaking of his brother, Martin’s character. In an amusing and intriguing way, Stewart helps them escape.

But a posse is formed and they are chased, eventually to bandolero country, land of bandits who kill gringos.

Though normally the chase would have been given up, in this case it hasn’t. They continue to be chased because they have taken a captive, Raquel Welch, who the sheriff (George Kennedy) loves and won’t give up.

Welch has a background of her own and, partly due to this, comes to like both Bishop brothers, despite being their hostage. She even falls in love with Dean Martin’s character and the feelings are reciprocated.

As expected, everything comes to a head in the final scenes. The ending is actually quite interesting as the script makes a risky decision and does something Hollywood movies don’t generally do.

While it can be admired for this, I’m not sure it works. It’s not a wholly satisfying end.

While not spectacular by any means, Bandolero! is quite good. It’s in the tradition of movies like Valdez Is Coming and The Professionals. If you like westerns, especially old-school westerns, this is worth seeing. The cinematography (William H. Clothier) is also worth taking in.

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