Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews. I have now launched a podcast about the making of Westerns and the overall filmmaking process. Click here to listen.
Week 186: Charro! (1969)
Charro! may not be a great Western but it’s a surprisingly good one. It feels like the culmination of everything writer/director Charles Marquis Warren learned over the years making Westerns for television and the big screen, all compiled into an assured and entertaining entry in the genre. It would be his last film, a shame since it reveals how good his work might have been if he continued.
There are three highlights to the picture: Elvis Presley, Victor French, and Hugo Montenegro. To begin with the icon, Presley proves in this movie that he’s not only a good actor but a great fit for the genre, portraying of quiet character and true grit. He doesn’t have a weak moment in the entire film. It’s too bad this isn’t one of his more popular pictures and it’s also a shame he didn’t continue to make more like it. Victor French is a revelation as Charro‘s villain. He reminds us of classic heavies played by the likes of Richard Boone and Lee Marvin but takes it his own direction. He seems so reasonable in such unreasonable situations and that makes his bad guy complex and at times sympathetic. He may be ruthless but by the end I felt bad for him. Warren understands that the genre isn’t about good and evil; it’s about the battle of opposing ethical codes.
Finally, the soundtrack by Montenegro is now one of my favorites of the genre. Most film scores are best when they are not calling attention to themselves. Montenegro’s walks a fine line of announcing itself while not distracting from the story. It’s practically a character in the film, often filling the landscape with a beautiful Western theme and at other times adding unique instrumentation to heighten the film’s suspense. I’m disappointed to see that the full soundtrack appears to be unavailable online…
Charro! is yet another Western that deserves more attention and a bittersweet swan song to its creator who committed so much of his career to the genre.
Watched on Peacock.