Outlaw Joe Baker (Dean Martin) hides from a cavalry officer (Brian Keith), inadvertently kidnaps the cavalry officerís wife (Honor Blackman), and tries to get his hands on a Gatling gun.
I doubt many people remember this 1971 comedy-western, but they undoubtedly remember the comedy-western that, ahem, influenced it. Something Big comes across as nothing more than the final product of a process that started when Dean Martin walked into some studio execís office and complained about being passed over for a role in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Something Big desperately wants to be that classic (even going so far as to have Hal David and Burt Bacharach pen the theme song), but no dice. It does everything wrong, failing to provide any sort of entertainment whatsoever. Itís a completely boneheaded, wrongheaded movie.
Main problem: the movieís not funny. It appears writer James Lee Barrett and director Andrew V. McLaglen assumed Dinoís charm would be enough to carry the movie, so the former wrote no jokes and the latter shot the movie in the flattest manner possible. (Of course, virtually every movie helmed by McLaglen was flat. The few decent movies he made were accidents.) But Martin spends most of the movie looking like he doesnít give a damn. Baker should be a charming, likeable guy, but heís really nothing more than a boring blank. Heís Butch Cassidy with all of the wit and charisma sucked out, and who the hell wants that?
The movie opens with a scene in which an old coot played by Denver Pyle tries to collect a bounty from Keith. Pyleís character has a lisp, and thatís the whole joke. You get five minutes of Pyle screwing up his sibilants. Does that sound like fun? No? Well how about a bunch of inebriated, cowardly Indians? One scene has Martin bribing Indians with booze, and a later scene illustrates why itís not a good idea to give Indians booze before theyíve come to your aid. Good grief. (Barrett had a hand in writing The Green Berets, so his use of stereotypes isnít surprising.)
This whimsical bit of tomfoolery ends with a sequence in which Dino mows down a bunch of Mexican bandits with the Gatling gun heís been trying to get his hands on. See, Bakerís plan to ďdo something bigĒ (a phrase that gets repeated with ridiculous frequency over the course of the movie) finally comes to fruition, and he travels to a small Mexican village to confront a big-time bandit (Gatling gun against Mexican bandits--why does that seem familiar?) named Emilio Estevez (no, really). Dino believes Estevez is sitting on top of a pile of gold, and it turns out Dino is right. So he and one of his pals toss the Gatling gun in the back of wagon and make a run through the village square, pumping lead into the bandits lining the rooftops. (Dino keeps the gun pointed in the same direction for the entire duration of the massacre, which means his back would be vulnerable for much of the time, but the bandits conveniently donít pop up and try to shoot him until right before itís their turn to die.)
It took fifteen years for Something Big to hit DVD, which should be warning enough. This is a terrible, terrible movie, and I really, really wish I hadnít seen it.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is an okay one. The movie obviously received no makeover or cleanup for its DVD debut (not that it deserved either), but the image still looks decent enough. Grain can be heavy at times (it swarms like mad during the opening titles, which isnít surprising), but itís never particularly noisy, and itís still preferable to a scrubbed, unnaturally clean image. Colors donít look too bad. Thereís a flatness to the image, but this is characteristic of both the cheaper film stocks used back in the early Ď70s and McLaglenís style (which would have been more at home on episodic television).
The Dolby Digital mono track offers a no-frills listening experience; what you might expect from a movie of this age is exactly what you get here. Dialogue sounds okay, but effects are canned and hollow; thereís nothing going on in the low end, and music (the score was composed by Marvin Hamlisch, and it sounds as if he didnít bother to watch the movie) creaks a little.
The sole extra is the movieís theatrical trailer.
Something Big is best left forgotten.