Friday, September 9, 2011

Charro! It Just Wasn't Different Enough

Earlier this week I sat down to watch Elvis' 29th film Charro! The reason for this was an article in the latest issue of the Elvis The Man And His Music magazine, titled "Charro! What Went Wrong?"

According to the writer, Gerry McLafferty, this dramatic western didn't work due to the following reasons:
  • The actors Elvis was working with were much better in, for example, Flaming Star.
  • Charro! suffered badly from sloppy editing and continuity goofs.
  • The final script was a very uneven, disjointed piece, full of patchy dialogue.
  • The original script had considerably more violence and nudity that was toned down.
As the end-credits rolled I had to agree. When it came to acting, Solomon Sturges, for example, who played the younger brother of Elvis' antagonist Vince Hackett, gave an exaggerated performance, to say the least.

As for goofs, in one scene I watched a disarmed Elvis riding his horse without his shotgun behind the saddle, in the next the shotgun was there. And during the final shoot-out the canon was falling from the wagon to the ground upside down, then in the next scene it was rolling downhill the correct way up.

And yes, the violence was minimal and the scene having Ina Balin emerge from a bath (filmed from behind) was missing.  Another reflection I made, that Gerry McLafferty didn't mention, was that the film could have used a couple of more extras. When Elvis entered the town of Rio Seco on horseback, it seemed almost empty. Surely more than some ten or twenty people must have lived there.

That said, I have to agree with McLafferty's opinion that Elvis' best moment in the film is the scene following the branding of his neck. He did convey "horrific pain and anguish" and the branding itself was violently realistic. And the music score, composed by Hugo Montenegro, was used effectively throughout the film.

Also, Elvis really looked the part of a tough gunfighter. It was indeed "A Different Kind of Role, A Different Kind of Man," as the promotion of Charro! read. But like Gerry McLafferty points out in his excellent article, "it just wasn't different enough."


Mike Hermenet said...

Although I haven't had the chance to read the article in TMAHM yet, I agree with your assessment and the points you highlighted from the article...CHARRO! could have been so much more. It could truly have been mentioned in the same breath as KING CREOLE as being Elvis' best movie work.

Sadly, we all know how it turned out. Certainly it is a much better film than the same old tried & true "beach" or "bikini" movies that had worn out their welcome with Elvis' fans...and considering what we all know now about how The Colonel worked, we fans should be proud that CHARRO! didn't turn out worse than it did. We certainly know The Colonel was after the almighty dollar, so I'm sure it was a battle to keep Elvis from singing any songs during the film. Clearly a singing gunfighter would have not been believable in terms of trying to establish CHARRO! as a dramatic picture, so on that front we can be thankful. But still...there are a LOT of things that The Colonel could have insisted on doing to CHARRO! to truly ruin the film completely.

Personally, despite the obvious issues with the film, I really think CHARRO! is a decent film. It certainly won't be remembered in the same vain as Clint Eastwood westerns, for example, but once again CHARRO! gave fans a true glimpse of what a terrific actor Elvis COULD HAVE been given the right material!!

Thanks for another great article Thomas!!


Thomas said...

Hi Mike, and thanks for your wise comments! I agree, Charro! is a decent movie, and showed Elvis could deliver the goods, like in the branding scene. If only they'd stuck to the original script....