Something Big (1977) – By Duane L. Martin

 

Joe Baker (Dean Martin) is a good-natured outlaw with a band of merry men (so to speak) who wants to retire. His right hand man’s Scottish sister Dover (Carol White) wants him to retire too, because a couple of years prior he had promised to marry her, and now she’s on her way out west to make sure he keeps that promise. The problem? He wants to pull off “something big” before he retires. In this case, “something big” is raiding a town that’s controlled by a Mexican thug and his gang so they can steal all the ill-gotten booty that’s contained within. There’s another problem though. They need something special to pull it off. That something special turns out to be a military issue Gatling gun that another outlaw offers him, but the price for it is steep. The outlaw doesn’t want money as payment…he wants a woman. To that end, Joe ends up kidnapping one for him off of a stage coach, but unfortunately for him, he kidnaps the wife of Colonel Morgan (Brian Keith), the soon to be retiring commandant of a nearby military fort. Now Morgan is after Joe to get his wife back, Joe’s after the Gatling gun, the outlaw with the Gatling gun’s after a woman, and Joe’s soon to be wife is after him. Will Joe be able to pull off something big before it all comes crashing down around his ears? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.

As soon as I saw that Dean Martin was in this one, I requested it immediately. I LOVE Dean Martin. I’ve never seen him do anything comedy related that wasn’t funny, or at least amusing, and I figured with a plot like this film has, it had to be entertaining. Well, it was entertaining, but it wasn’t as funny as I’d hoped. There was some comedy in it, but it was light comedy, not really the laugh out loud kind.

Dean Martin is…well…he’s Dean Martin. He could be playing a serial killer and still be a totally likeable guy. His gang were all likeable too, especially his right hand man, Tommy McBride (Don Knight). On the flip side, we have Brian Keith who plays a grizzled old veteran whose men love him and would follow him straight into Hell if he asked them to. So there wasn’t really anyone to hate in this film except for the two outlaws who were offering Joe the Gatling gun in exchange for a woman, and even they were so ridiculous that you couldn’t really work up much animosity toward them.

I liked this film, but I think that was part of the problem with it. There was no one to hate. Even the Mexican bandit leader at the end was hardly in it, and only really existed to give them a job to pull off. Even the relationship between Joe and the colonel’s wife after she was kidnapped was far too tame, and then eventually turned into a good relationship once she stopped complaining about everything. If this film had one glaring flaw, it was that. The whole thing was just too tame. The comedy wasn’t hilarious, and there wasn’t any bad stuff coming from the other direction to make up for it. The acting is good though, and the film is filled with recognizable faces among the side characters. People like Merlin Olson, Ben Johnson, Denver Pyle and Harry Carey Jr..

There are no special features on this release, not does it have any subtitles, which I will continue to mention until they start adding subtitles to these classic releases. The picture and sound quality are great though, as it is on all of Kino Lorber’s Studio Classics releases.

This film is 108 minutes of light-hearted fun. Is it the best western you’ll ever see? No, not by a long shot, but it is rather entertaining. Is it entertaining enough to earn a recommendation? Yeah, it definitely is. Just go into it expecting smiles instead of laugh out loud comedy, and you’ll enjoy it just fine.

If you’d like to find out more about this release, you can check out the film’s page on the Kino Lorber website here: https://www.kinolorber.com/film/somethingbig