Thursday, December 16, 2021

Out west with Frank Sinatra

Several months back, I had the chance to record 4 for Texas the last time it ran on TCM. It's back on the schedule, tomorrow at 3:00 PM, so recently I made a point of watching it to do a review here.

Dean Martin plays Joe Jarrett, who at the beginning of the movie is riding on a stagecoach with a railroad man who is carrying $100,000 in cash and gold that's in one of the bags that's part of the cargo. Of course, you know that the stagecoach is going to be attacked, and soon enough Zack Thomas (Frank Sinatra) comes, guns blazing. Thankfully, Joe is a pretty good shot himself, and is able to save himself, but not his fellow passenger or the coachmen.

However, there's another problem, which is that a third guy, Matson (Charles Bronson) has a group of men there for the robbery. It seems as though back in Galveston, where Zack is based, the banker that more or less runs the town, Harvey Burden (Victor Buono) has grown tired of working with Zack, and wants somebody to take him out. It's Burden's men who get killed in the gunfire, leaving Zack and Joe alone when the dust settles.

Joe is able to get the drop on Zack and get the money, heading off to Galveston, since he grew up in an orphanage there. However, he doesn't realize that Joe is going to be heading there, or the danger that Burden and Matson pose to him. Joe finds out that there's an old riverboat at one of the piers in the harbor, and he decides that he's going to refurbish the boat and turn it into a casino. That was also Zack's plan too.

Meanwhile, Zack has a long-suffering girlfriend in Elya (Anita Ekberg), while Joe is about to get one himself. He doesn't realize that one the riverboat for some reason that's not well explained is one Maxine Richter (Ursula Andress), who seems to have squatter's rights and so becomes a partner with Joe in fixing up the boat and making the casino a reality. But before they can do that, they're going to have to deal with Matson returning to town and trying to kill both Joe and Zack, who eventually have to team up.

4 For Texas has a lot of star power, but it's a movie that doesn't really work. I think part of it is that most of the cast, with the chief exception being Bronson, look like they don't fit at all in a western. The movie also doesn't get well from one part of the plot to the next, with the orphanage scene looking tacked on because those kids never really show up again. There's another tacked-on scene, involving the Three Stooges and a portrait of Maxine in the nude, that doesn't fit into the movie either.

All in all, I'll be glad to get 4 for Texas off my DVR and free up room for something else. But maybe you'll like it.

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