Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Our first movie for AndressFest '10 was the little known and even less understood 1963 Western '4 For Texas'.

On his way to Texas with $100,000 destined for investment in the railroad, Zach Thomas (Frank Sinatra) runs into some trouble when his stagecoach is attacked by Matson (Charles Bronson) and his hoodlums. He fends them off with his sharp shooting skills, but loses the money anyway when the stagecoach crashes and fellow passenger Joe Jarrett (Dean Martin) makes off with it.

Thomas retires hurt but philosophical to his home in Galveston, but when he discovers that the newly wealthy Jarrett has turned up, looking to spend his ill-gotten gains, Thomas vows revenge.

Jarrett’s not such as bad guy (he’s already given a quarter of the money to the orphanage where he grew up), and Thomas is not exactly an exemplary pillar of the community, so it’s hard to know who to support. Zach lives in a local hotel owned by Elya Carlson (Anita Eckberg) and her bevy of frilly-knickered French maids. Jarrett is footloose and fancy free, at least until he meets the shady Max Richter (Ursula Andress). In return for enough money to renovate her dilapidated paddle steamer, Max offers Jarrett a stake in the resultant floating casino, as well as… well, the usual things that Ursula Andress had to offer.

The rivalry between the two men escalates to the point where they and their respective gangs are ready to rumble, West Side Story style, on the night of the casino opening. However the bad-tempered and just slightly psychopathic Matson has it in for both of them, and they are forced to reconcile their differences and band together to defeat him and save their respective businesses interests and pneumatic lovers.

Despite boasting two of the biggest male stars of the day, and two of the most voluptuous blondes, ‘4 For Texas’ wasn’t much of a film and it’s barely remembered today by anyone other than diehard Frank Sinatra fans and, of course, me. One could simply shrug, blame The Curse of Ursula, and move on. However I prefer to be more positively critical, and to that end I’ve identified exactly where ‘4 For Texas’ went wrong, in the hopes that any surviving cast and crew might learn to do better next time.

4 Wasted Opportunities in ‘4 For Texas’

1. This film stars Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, two of the most popular singers of their age… and there are no songs. At all. One would think that a little number entitled “I Got Two Big Things Down In Galveston (And They’re Both Called Elya)” or “I Want Max, The Money And Another Martini” would have fitted nicely with the laid back, jokey vibe of what is, after all, a Rat Pack Western.

But alas, it was not to be. As a result, the assembled AndressFesters had to insert their own songs:

Frank Sinatra: You won’t get away with this, Jarrett!

JC: I’m gonna get the money back My Way!

Me: I’ll chase you right back to New York New York!

PM: You and me are gonna be Strangers In The Night… ah, no, wait, that doesn’t work.

2. Despite having Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, the film makers didn’t think to complete the trifecta and get Sammy Davis Jnr. Sure, it might have been hard to work a short black Jewish dude into a Western, but no harder than expecting the audience to credit Frank Sinatra as a cowboy or Ursula Andress as a criminal mastermind.

Admit it, the idea of Sammy Davis Jnr being in the movie, especially if he and Dino and Ol’ Blue Eyes got to do a song together, is irresistible.

3. Instead of Sammy Davis Jnr, the film contained the Three Stooges… and they got a cameo of barely three minutes to practice their schtick.

It’s not that I’m complaining - I hate the Three Stooges. But Americans have a baffling affection for them, so if you’re going to drag them out of the retirement home, looking like a collection of badly weathered garden gnomes, then you may as well make the most of it and give them a meaty part. Their 184 second cameo was about as meaty as a bean sprout.

4. And finally, the film boasted Ursula Andress in a diaphanous negligee… and they lit her from behind. If anyone wanted to see a silhouette of a beautiful woman in a virtually sheer nightgown, it’d be cheaper to make a cardboard cutout and drape it in mosquito netting. If you have a magnificently three dimensional Ursula Andress to hand, why not turn on the spotlights and let her do what she does best?

Lights! Sweet merciful crap, people, lights! LIGHTS!

Dino knows what I’m talking about, judging by this reaction shot:

Still, if the members of AndressFest ’10 were disappointed by the coy modesty of Ursula’s character in ‘4 For Texas’, all was forgiven for our next movie.


Blogger dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, thanks for liftin' up the name of our Dino and sharin' your insights on "4 For Texas." Especially loves that last pix of our so cool!

Never was, never will be anyone as cool as the King of Cool...oh, to return to the days when Dino walked the earth....

knows that your post is bein' featured this very Dino-day at ilovedinomartin....

6:06 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home