This odd entry in the career of Elvis Presley feels like a cross between various western styles. The opening credits look much like a spaghetti entry while the bulk of the film plays like a western from producer A.C. Lyles. Lyles gave us a selection of low budget oaters starring faded Hollywood stars like Jane Russell and Dana Andrews in Johnny Reno.
Elvis leaves the guitar and the Jordinaires behind as he attempts to play it straight. He’s an ex member of an outlaw gang led by Victor French. French isn’t too pleased with the fact that Presley deserted him and took his girl Ina Balin along for the ride.
By the time French catches up with our bearded star, he’s stolen a gold cannon from south of the border and made sure that the description of the head thief matches Elvis. All he needs to do is place a branding iron on the King’s neck to finalize the description. Hang’em High anyone? I couldn’t help but say aloud while watching, “The King rises” after he’s laid out and branded. Like the tough hombre he is, Elvis struggles back to his feet.
With a price on his head and revenge on his mind the balance of the film is spent with French and Elvis playing cat and mouse games in the town where ex flame Balin has set up shop in the local saloon. If it wasn’t for Solomon Sturges playing French’s half crazed brother, Elvis just might never have get the upper hand against the gang that left him for dead. Any bets on who might win the lovely Balin back?
While totally watchable, Charro! is just not that memorable despite Elvis finally making a film where he doesn’t sing other than the opening theme over the credits. That’s unfortunate as I for one have always thought the King’s film career should have amounted to much more than it did as far as film’s in a classic sense. For the record I do think Flaming Star with Elvis is a solid western overall. With Don Siegel directing that should come as no surprise.
Could Elvis be going into karate mode years before Jackie Chan did it in Shanghai Noon?
Charles Marquis Warren served here as the writer, producer and director. A large part of Warren’s career was made up from television western productions. He served as producer on Rawhide, The Virginian as well as directing numerous Gunsmoke episodes.
The familiar face of Victor French is always a welcome sight. Even if he is playing the villain and not the lovable Isaiah Edwards of Little House on the Prairie.
Another face turning up is James Sikking who I recall had a memorable scene verbally fencing with Gene Hackman in The Narrow Margin remake and assisted Sean Connery in Outland which I occasionally love to revisit.
Overall this is pretty much for western fans and the King’s legion.