In 1971, Dean Martin was near the height of his fame. His variety show on NBC had been a hit for NBC since 1965, and he had become one of the highest paid performers on television. Fans loved his cool, smirking, devil-may-care attitude. Martin used his summer hiatus’ from the show to do nightclub appearances and makes films. One such film was 1971’s Something Big, a light-hearted western.
Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen (Shenandoah, The Rare Breed) and written by James Lee Barrett (The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Green Berets) Something Big offers a rather simple story. Dean Martin plays Joe Baker, an aging bandit determined to accomplish “something big,” before his fiancé Dover McBride (Carol White) arrives from Pennsylvania. He was supposed to have made a fortune, but he’s come up empty. Colonel Morgan (Brian Keith) knows that Baker is planning something, but the details remain sketchy—it’s simply “something big.”
As it turns out, Baker is planning a raid on a famous Mexican outlaw’s remote treasury. With the treasure well guarded, Baker is forced to make a deal with the vulgar and lonely bandit Johnny Cobb (Albert Salmi), to purchase a Gatling gun in exchange for a woman. Baker’s gang holds up a series of stagecoaches but leaves them untouched after Cobb is unable to find a suitable woman. He finally finds a suitable gal, who turns out to be Colonel Morgan’s wife Mary Ann (Honor Blackman). She quickly takes a liking to Baker, who treats her with respect.
To say much more would give the entirety of what little plot there is away. Something Big doesn’t take itself too seriously; written as a bit of a parody of the western genre. Martin’s character is a bit of an eccentric. Dressed in a well-cut suede coat, he carries a small dog in a special saddle pouch. His horse’s two front teeth are capped with gold. His second in command is a kilted Scotsman who plays the bagpipes at nearly every turn.
Martin, along with a talented supporting cast that includes Ben Johnson, Denver Pyle, Merlin Olsen, Robert Donner, Harry Carey Jr. and Joyce Van Patten clearly had a lot of fun making this film. Dean Martin smirks his way through the entire thing—and that’s what Something Big is; a fun time. If you’re looking for a lighthearted, harmless movie, give this one a try.
Presented in the full screen format, Something Big looks okay. Colors aren’t particularly vibrant, but there not faded either. I didn’t notice any real digital anomalies except for a couple of scratches.
The audio is presented in a straight forward Dolby Mono. While nothing special, it does provide clear and concise dialogue throughout.
English SDH subtitles are available.
The theatrical trailer is included.
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