The improvement phase of One thing Big (1971) was most likely much more exciting than the film that resulted. Though I wasn’t able to find any conclusive proof, it certain plays like it was written for bigger stars than the two this Western comedy ended up with: Dean Martin and Brian Keith. Certainly, a lot about the image suggests it was conceived with John Wayne in Keith’s component, and maybe a larger caliber star like Robert Mitchum in Martin’s.
Producers James Lee Barrett (who also wrote the script) and Andrew V. McLaglen (who also directed) each had worked with Wayne: Barrett wrote The Green Berets (1968) and The Undefeated (1969), although McLaglen, the son of actor Victor, had known Wayne considering that childhood and directed him in 4 attributes which includes Hellfighters (1968) and The Undefeated.
Brian Keith, then 49, plays a retiring U.S. Cavalry colonel about 65, roughly Wayne’s actual age at the time, in scenes that gently (and sometimes inelegantly) but directly spoof one particular of Wayne’s most well-known roles, in John Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). Practically the entirety of the John Ford and/or John Wayne stock company is present: Ben Johnson, Harry Carey, Jr., Paul Fix, Edward Faulkner, Bob Steele, plus a few other folks that had not too long ago worked with Wayne, such as Merlin Olsen. It is not inconceivable that Something Huge may have even been developed for director Ford, possibly with the expertise that, in rapidly declining wellness, he’d never ever been capable to actually direct it.
But none of this actually matters as the image is a almost stillborn work. The tone is wildly inconsistent, with fitful slapstick jumbled indiscriminately with moments of syrupy sentiment and tame genre parody. Likewise, the Burt Bacharach-Hal David title song (performed by Mark Lindsay), reflecting the apparent influence of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1971), seems out of spot.
On the eve of his retirement, U.S. Cavalry Col. Morgan (Brian Keith) learns that wily bandit Joe Baker (Dean Martin) is up to “something large” (a term repeatedly and significantly overused in the dialogue), one last huge score ahead of the easygoing thief likewise retires.
Baker, organizing to rob a veritable fortress held by nicely-armed Mexican banditos just across the borders, strikes a bargain with two-bit thief Johnny Cobb (Albert Salmi), who’ll exchange a Gatling gun for some thing unusual: a cultured woman.
After a series of stagecoach hold-ups, Baker finally kidnaps Mary Ann (Goldfinger‘s Honor Blackman), unaware that she’s the colonel’s extended-separated wife, come to gather him in his retirement. Meanwhile, Baker’s own fiancée, fiery Scotswoman, Dover (Carol White), has also gone west to collect him.
Neither Dean Martin nor Brian Keith was specifically a box-office powerhouse at the time. Martin’s 1965-74 selection show was well-liked, but his starring films had steadily declined, from the increasingly terrible Matt Helm spy spoofs to lackluster Westerns like 5 Card Stud (1968). He fared significantly better in supporting roles: The Sons of Katie Elder (with Wayne, 1965), Bandolero! (with Jimmy Stewart, 1968), and the film he made just before this, Airport (1970), a large hit. Martin was good in all of these, but seemed to give a lot significantly less in his own vehicles, as he does here. Gruff Brian Keith, a household name from the sentimental sitcom Household Affair (1966-71), was a challenging actor to cast, and tended to over- or underplay his film roles, even though sometimes could be excellent. Oddly, he gave one of his greatest performances in what was maybe his worst film, as a quietly amused Russian-speaking scientist in the disaster film Meteor (1979). (In spite of his Irish-Catholic background, Keith somehow spoke fluent Russian.)
Of more interest to Western genre fans are the substantial supporting parts given to Ben Johnson (as a Cavalry-hired tracker), Harry Carey, Jr. (as a a single-legged pal of Martin’s), and B-Western excellent Bob Steele as a stagecoach driver. The film isn’t extremely good but they’re all enjoyable to watch.
About the only issue memorable about Some thing Huge are Joyce Van Patten and Judi Meredith as a sex-starved sisters, widowed some years before by their miner husbands. Their determination to bed down with any several fortunate or unlucky adequate to cross their path is rather refreshing and original for a Western comedy. The film ought to have provided much more scenes like this.
Video & Audio
Presented in its original 1.85:1 widescreen One thing Big, licensed from CBS (inheritors of the National General library) looks fine, with a reasonably sharp image, decent color, and so on. The 2. DTS-HD Master Audio (mono) is adequate and the disc is Area A encoded. No Extra Functions.
Not terrible and almost likeable at occasions, Anything Massive itself positive seemed to have had bigger ambitions at a single point, but then all but gave up. Rent It.
Stuart Galbraith IV is the Kyoto-primarily based film historian largely absent from reviewing these days although he restores a 200-year-old Japanese farmhouse.
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