Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Finally, A Movie About That Busty Cuban Entertainer...Oh, Wait a Minute...: "Charro!" (1969)

Elvis Presley proves he does not have to appear in a musical to make a crappy film.

Elvis is Jess Wade (which sounds like Just Suede if you say it fast), a former member of an outlaw gang headed by Vince (Victor French). Wade left the gang to mine gold, and took Vince's girl Tracey (Ina Balin) with him. Tracey left, the mine did not pan out, and Vince has stolen a giant gold and silver encrusted cannon from the Mexican government.

One of the outlaws, now dead, is identified by a neck wound. Vince gets the idea to pay Wade back by giving him an identical neck wound, taking the heat off the outlaws. Wade heads to the nearest town, where the man who raised him happens to be sheriff, and Tracey happens to run the saloon there. The outlaws happen to camp outside the same town, and Vince's hotheaded brother Billy Roy (Solomon Sturges) heads off to town for some booze and hookers. There, Billy shoots the sheriff (but does not shoot the deputy, there is not one), and Wade hauls him to jail. Wade is sworn in as the deputy, still trying to avoid the Mexican military who is after him.

Vince finds out about Billy, and kills an entire squad of Federales with his most obvious weapon- the cannon. Soon, Vince gives Wade an ultimatum- release Billy or he will blow the town to smithereens.

Actually, the plot is the most entertaining part of the film. I could picture a remake, full of exciting action pieces and cowboys using their brains to outsmart each other. I beg for a remake because this film is so bad.

Charles Marquis Warren's experience is in television, and it shows. He uses a dissolve to black constantly throughout the film, as if making a spot for commercials. The problem is they come at the wrong time, every time. There will be a dissolve, then the next scene begins...usually taking place within seconds of the dissolved scene. The pace of the film is off, actors pause in between each other's dialogue as if they cannot remember their lines.

Elvis Presley is at a complete loss here. There are no songs to sing, no Capri-panted chicks to chase, so he delivers his words in his familiar monotone, reading them all with much too much seriousness. The one funny scene, when he slams Billy's head into a jail bar, is turned depressing by the King. Victor French acts circles around him, and takes over the film. Ina Balin is gorgeous, and does the closest thing to a nude scene ever done in an Elvis picture, but her character is so badly written it is embarrassing. The film's musical score, save the lousy opening credits song sung by Elvis, sounds eerily like the score to "Plan Nine from Outer Space." One final note: stay away from the Warner Brothers video of the film. The film was shot in widescreen, and the video's constant pan and scan gave me a massive headache.

"Charro!" is infamous for its ineptitude, and deserves the discredit. I spent most of this film fantasizing about Charo, hoochie koochie, and that was more entertaining than this film. (*) out of five stars.