Frank Sinatra plays a tough guy who hooks up with fellow rat packer Dean Martin to open a casino in this western.
Frank Sinatra ... Zack Thomas
Dean Martin ... Joe Jarrett
Anita Ekberg ... Elya Carlson
Ursula Andress ... Maxine Richter
Charles Bronson ... Matson
Victor Buono ... Harvey Burden (President, Galveston Savings & Trust)
Edric Connor ... Prince George (carriage driver)
Nick Dennis ... Angel
Richard Jaeckel ... Pete Mancini
Mike Mazurki ... Chad (Zack's bodyguard)
Wesley Addy ... Winthrop Trowbridge
Marjorie Bennett ... Miss Emmaline
Virginia Christine ... Elya Carlson's maid
Ellen Corby ... Widow
Bronson—in this supposed comedy-western—as outlaw leader Matson who works for crooked banker Victor Buono, helps start the film off on a high note of action… He and his henchmen attack a stagecoach whose passengers include Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra…
After repulsing the bandits, Zack (Sinatra) discloses a bag containing $100,000, and Joe (Martin) unexpectedly relieves him of the money at gunpoint…
In Galveston, Joe deposits the money in a bank run by Harvey Burden (Buono), a thief who has supported Zack's efforts to become the town's gambling king…
When Zack arrives in town, Matson tries to kill him, but Joe interferes, saving Zack's life…Then Zack learns that Joe intends to compete with him by converting an abandoned riverboat into a gambling saloon… Outraged, he raises a gang, intending to take over the boat on opening night… But Burden has plans of his own…
Much of the plot, such as it is, is taken up with the comic rivalry between Martin and Sinatra, involving with womanizing and gambling… The three Stooges doing one of their ancient routines provide a gay moment… Anita Ekberg and Ursula Andress are an absolute pleasure to look at… And if you want to know the answer of Joe to Ursula's commentary: "You didn't notice what I'm wearing," don't miss this nice, civilized picture…
4 for Texas is a much reduced Rat Pack film with only Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin representing the swinging group. But they each got girls here and what girls with Anita Ekberg and Ursula Andress paired with Sinatra and Dino respectively.
The film opens up with an attempted stagecoach holdup with Frank Sinatra riding shotgun on top and Dean Martin as one sharp shooting passenger killing six bandits of Charles Bronson's gang. Of course they don't get off Scot free because the driver and another passenger were killed.
The stage is carrying $100,000.00 of Sinatra's money which Martin eventually winds up with. And when he gets to Galveston he invests it in the posh gambling establishment Sinatra was hoping to open.
You've got two other guys who are working their angles, conniving banker Victor Buono and Charles Bronson. Their scenes together remind me a whole lot of This Gun for Hire with Laird Cregar and Alan Ladd as the businessman and the killer he hired. At least Buono though he'd have liked to, had more sense than Cregar and wasn't about to pull a double-cross on Bronson.
Of course Ekberg and Andress realize their men should be allies instead of enemies. But testosterone keeps getting in the way until the two women kind of force an alliance.
4 for Texas is funny in many spots, not as good as the ultimate Rat Pack film Ocean's 11. Of the two of them Dino has the better performance, he's far funnier naturally which his former partner Jerry Lewis never tired of pointing out. And of course Dean gets to perform with the Three Stooges which is like working with three Jerrys.
There's a small cameo inside the gambling ship with Arthur Godfrey. He was one of the biggest names in television back in the Fifties, but anyone born after 1956 will not have the foggiest idea who that is or why we should be laughing there.
Though 4 for Texas is fine, maybe it would have been nice to have given Dino or Old Blue Eyes a song to sing. Even Ocean's 11 had both Dean and Sammy Davis, Jr. singing.
Like SERGEANTS 3 (1962), the actual running time (115 minutes) of this 1963 Christmas attraction differs from the official one (124 minutes) – although, in this case, it could well be the result of the lopping off of the Prelude, Intermission, Entr’ Acte and Exit Music pieces. While still in essence an overblown and thinly-plotted ego-trip, it’s certainly more entertaining than the Rat Pack’s previous Western outing.
Frank Sinatra’s pampered tycoon character is annoyingly narcissistic at times and Anita Ekberg is just there to abet him and as an added scenery attraction; by contrast, Dean Martin and a sultry Ursula Andress (a role originally intended for Gina Lollobrigida!!) thoroughly enjoy themselves. Director Aldrich also allows two of his previous collaborators free rein: a constantly burping banker (Victor Buono) and Martin’s diminutive bodyguard (Nick Dennis) ham it up mercilessly but result in being definite assets to the proceedings; Charles Bronson is the straight villain and other familiar faces appearing here include Mike Mazurki (as Sinatra’s own dim-witted bodyguard), Richard Jaeckel, Abraham Sofaer, Grady Sutton, etc. The guest appearance by The Three Stooges is cute but hardly outstanding (though Martin does get to slap all three at once!), emerging as a sure sign of the film’s anything-goes attitude!
Again, Aldrich (who apparently intensely disliked Sinatra!) had tackled Westerns that were both terse and significant before – but, here, he seems to have purposely taken a back seat to the stars’ antics (albeit with the occasional inventive visual touch). By the way, none other than Bette Davis declined a part in the film in order to star in yet another horror piece (a phase in her career which, coincidentally, Aldrich himself had spearheaded) – DEAD RINGER (1964; which I own on DVD but have yet to watch) – though it’s hard to see now where she would have fitted in.
All things considered, the film is a colorful and easy-going romp – culminating in a fistfight between the stars, which is followed by them burying the hatchet in order to rout Bronson (whose riverboat demise is a highlight) and Buono, and ending with a double wedding. The Warners DVD contains a short ‘making of” featurette which shows the cast and crew doing their stuff on the set.
* During one scene in the film, we see a building with a painted sign for the "SAM Company". "SAM" is the name of the production company that made the film and it stood for Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
* Bette Davis declined a role in this film to do Dead Ringer (1964).
* Director Robert Aldrich intensely disliked Frank Sinatra's non-professional attitude and tried unsuccessfully to have him dismissed from the film.
* Anita Ekberg and Ursula Andress both did nude screen tests, Hollywood's first. However the censors removed all nudity from the finished film.
* The role of Maxine Richter was originally intended for Gina Lollobrigida.