Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of making my own 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.
Week Fifty Four: Sam Whiskey
A peculiar movie. Half the jokes don’t land. The lead actress, though terrific in other movies, falls flat here. The story isn’t great, nor does it make sense. However, I cannot deny liking this movie.
Like its star Burt Reynolds, Sam Whiskey has an irresistible kind of charm. Burt has the same kind of swagger and comic ease that Clooney did in Three Kings, before he started trying too hard to be funny. Reynolds did say this film was ahead of its time for playing light comedy and maybe he was right. The parts of the film that work most are those with all three of the buddies on screen together because the film is at its best when it plays as buddy comedy, not caper. Ossie Davis is terrific as the smartest of the bunch and the best with his fists. Clint Walker has incredible screen presence. I’m not too familiar with his work and this was quite a revelation. I could imagine so many roles he would have been perfect for, an adaptation of Doc Savage for certain. The trio shines in their misadventures and the film crumbles when distracted from them.
Look, I love Angie Dickinson, especially in Rio Bravo, but she’s awful here. It could be the script, miscasting, who knows. Her part is simply annoying. The heavies aren’t dangerous enough to take seriously and therefore the film lacks much tension, something even a good Western comedy needs. The suspense does kick in with the final caper for a few minutes but overall this is “light” as Burt says, both when it works and when it doesn’t. But it put a smile on my face and that’s something.
Seen on Amazon Prime.