We remember Burt Reynolds, Ossie Davis, and Clint Walker in the 1969 caper.
Editor's Note: Throughout the month of October, C&I is celebrating the golden westerns of 1969, a year that changed the game for the beloved film genre. Check the Entertainment tab each day to see a different film recommendation by C&I senior writer Joe Leydon. And be on the lookout for the upcoming November/December 2019 print edition, which prominently features one of the 25 greatest films of 1969 on its cover.
After succumbing to the, ahem, blandishments of a sexy widow (Angie Dickinson), roguish adventurer Sam Whiskey (Burt Reynolds) agrees to help preserve her late husband’s family name by recovering a cache of gold bullion the guy stole from the Denver Mint — and then breaking into the mint vault to replace the booty. What could possibly go wrong?
Quite a lot, actually, but not nearly enough to spoil the fun. With veteran TV and movie western director Arnold Laven (Rough Night in Jericho, The Glory Guys) unobtrusively overseeing the proceedings, Sam Whiskey is a seriocomic caper that goes down smoothly and easily. Reynolds, on the cusp of movie superstardom, is the main attraction here, doing the smiley, smart-alecky shtick that would serve him even better in a string of 1970s hits. But Ossie Davis has his moments as a crafty blacksmith allied with Whiskey, and Dickinson is… is… well, attractive enough to make it credible that she could talk any guy into collaborating on the most incredible escapade.
But wait, there’s more: C&I reader favorite Clint Walker is richly amusing as O.W. Bandy, a self-described “inventor and businessman” who periodically quotes Plato quoting Socrates while assisting in the gold transfer. At one point, he’s called upon to impersonate a jealous husband so his confederates can trap a mint inspector. Bandy has just one line to deliver – “Aha! I caught you trifling with my wife!” — and he is his own worst critic: “I guess I didn’t do it too slick, huh?”