“A different kind of role, a different kind of man.”
Director: Charles Marquis Warren
Cast: Elvis Presley, Ina Balin, Victor French
Synopsis: A cowboy searches for the real thieves after hs is falsely accused of stealing a cannon from Mexican revolutionaries.
Charro! features Spaghetti Western style opening credits and a score from Hugo Montenegro who, at the time of the film’s release, was enjoying chart success with his version of Ennio Morricone’s theme for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. That’s as far as connections between TV director Charles Marquis Warren’s film and the Spaghetti Western genre go, unless you allow for the fact that Charro! is just as bad as the plethora of pale Italian imitations that followed in the wake of Sergio Leone’s trilogy. In fact, Charro! looks more like an episode from some bland 1960s TV show than a Spaghetti Western, the result, no doubt, of Warren’s extensive experience directing and producing the likes of Rawhide and Gunsmoke.
Although the puppy fat was long gone and he’s sporting a beard, Elvis Presley, in one of the last movies he made before giving up acting for eating, still looks a little too pretty to convince in the title role of Jess Wade (a charro is a singer), a bad boy turned good in the old west. Vince Hackett (Victor French), Jess’s old partner in crime, is having a little trouble letting go though, and with his gang, which includes younger brother Bill Roy (Solomon Sturges, the son of 1940s director, Preston), frames Jess for the theft of a cannon from revolutionaries in Mexico. Having successfully placed Jess in the frame you’d have thought Vince might have just killed his former partner so that he would be unable to prove his innocence or exact revenge but, no, Vince simply has his boys burn Jess’s neck to make him easily identifiable to the law and lets him go. Needless to say, it’s not long before Jess is working to clear his name…
Charro! is a bad film in all sorts of ways. The acting is uniformly poor; Presley acts with all the force you’d expect from a pop star turned actor and is at a complete loss when called upon to do anything other than look mean and moody. Victor French as his nemesis has the unfortunate habit of appearing scared whenever he tries to look menacing, while Sturges as his kid brother shows no restraint whatsoever and simply shouts his lines between bouts of annoyingly forced laughter. The direction wavers between bad and non-existent, as if Warren couldn’t be bothered to instruct his actors in even the basic requirements. Unfortunately, his writing skills — from a story by Frederick Louis Fox — are equally incompetent, making Charro! a clunker worth forgetting by everyone involved.
(Reviewed 20th October 2014)