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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Bandolero! (1968/Fox DVD)



Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Film: B



One of the last impressive Westerns before Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969) showed up and broke new ground in realism was journeyman director Andrew V. McLaglen’s Bandolero! (1968), which offers a solid script and an excellent cast that all seems to come together and work well.  George Kennedy is the local sheriff who is interested in the streetwise, now rich and always beautiful recent widow (Raquel Welch, in one of her best films and performances) who is ready to do what she has to do in a man’s world after tolerating nothing but ugliness from it since she was young.  Racism is also a factor.


Enter a gang of robbers (Dean Martin, Will Geer, et al) who get caught and one of them (Martin) is guilty of killing a bank employee.  They are about to be hanged by a traveling hangman, when another enterprising thief (Jimmy Stewart) takes over and has other plans.  Andrew Prine also stars as Kennedy’s assistant deputy in a rich, if not always realistic Western that holds up very well and may be the best martin ever made in the genre.  James Lee Barrett’s screenplay is top notch, rich with ideas and well constructed enough to have you suspend your disbelief when Hollywood glamour and less realistic circumstances surface.  This is still violent to a great extent, getting a much belated PG-13 for DVD release.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 Panavision image is the other big surprise of the DVD, offering rich DeLuxe color, a clean print, and great depth in the frame.  Cinematographer William H. Clothier, A.S.C., has an outstanding grasp of the scope frame, making it work even when you can tell what is shot on a set.  It is amazing that great elements of this film survived so well.  The Dolby Digital is available in 2.0 Spanish & French Mono, but is especially interesting in a basic English Stereo.  It has no Pro Logic surrounds and even has compression limits and a slight harshness here and there, but the score by Jerry Goldsmith is another winner.  Just when you think it cannot get more entertaining, here is Goldsmith with another great work.  We have already reviewed several of his Fox scores on CD from Film Score Monthly Magazine’s FSM label, so we hope this one comes out the same way.


The extras are trailers to five other Welch films, plus Spanish and English trailers for this film.  A movie this good deserved a bit more (documentary, commentary), but it is not often enough that such a good performance DVD of an older film arrives, so that alone is reason enough to get this release of Bandolero!  We cannot see enough great films of the past get this kind of treatment.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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