This was the final western for both Rock Hudson and Dean Martin. It also turned out to be the final film from long time director George Seaton. Although both of our leading men were a little old for the plot line of the film, it is still quite watchable and much better than Martin’s previous western “something big”.
As old friends on opposite sides of the law Martin still keeps his persona intact with his usual off handed humor and laid back approach. Hudson is the local rancher turned sheriff who has to go out and bring his old friend to justice after Dean robs a train with some dubious partners. Nice work done here by Susan Clark as the frontier woman who chose Hudson over Dean leading to Dean’s leaving the ranch he once operated with Rock.
The strength of the film comes from the flashbacks that are sprinkled throughout the film. Especially when they have a couple of young actors playing the lead roles as kids. It’s a little different and fits nicely into developing the friendship that the two main characters have had for each other. Inevitably the clash between the two takes a turn which leads to a satisfying ending that one should be able to see coming.
Hudson does fine here but it’s Dean to me that always seemed at home while in the saddle. Although you could call Pardners his first oater it was of course Rio Bravo that cemented his contribution to the western. By this time admittedly he looked to be mailing in some of his scenes but after all he is Dean Martin. The director Seaton was behind the camera for a few notable films over the years including Miracle on 34th Street and Airport with Dino in 1970. A young Ed Begley Jr. turns up here briefly in one of his early bits. The music from David Shire is a little off at times and one wishes that there had been a Martin song over the opening credits.
Although no Peckinpah classic here, there is enough gunplay to satisfy the western fan and of course the Martin/Hudson followers as well.