Monday, April 2, 2012

Dirty Dingus Magee (1970)

Grating and unfunny, this spoof of movie Westerns pales beside the inspired lunacy of Blazing Saddles (1974) and even the lighthearted silliness of Cat Ballou (1965). Worse, the movie overcompensates for its shortcomings by smothering nearly every scene in cloying music straight out of a Disney cartoon, and by relying on vulgar stereotypes like ignorant Native Americans, moronic Cavalry soldiers, and sex-crazed frontier women. In other words, rather than actually satirizing the clichés of the Western genre, Dirty Dingus Magee merely recites the clichés and adds the cinematic equivalent of lounge-comic rim shots. A bored-looking Frank Sinatra stars as small-time outlaw Dingus Magee. After robbing a bankroll from his dim-bulb pal Hoke (George Kennedy), Dingus retreats into the wilderness, where he becomes lovers with a horny squaw, Anna Hot Water (Michele Carey). Hoke seeks assistance from the mayor of a frontier town, who is also the local madam, Belle (Anne Jackson). She appoints Hoke sheriff so he can chase Dingus. However, the U.S. Army is threatening to close a nearby military base, so Belle asks Hoke to stir up an Indian uprising as a means of persuading the Army to stay. Using these plot elements, plus a few other stupid contrivances, producer-director Burt Kennedy constructs an hour and a half of noisy farce. Typical high jinks include a running gag of Hoke getting bopped on the head to the accompaniment of cartoonish sound effects, and Anna Hot Water repeatedly asking whether it’s time for her and “Din-goose” to “make bim-bam.” Sinatra wears a floppy black wig that makes him look like a middle-aged reject from Beatlemania, and Kennedy pulls so many bug-eyed faces that it’s surprising he got through production without an aneurysm. Both should have been embarrassed by their participation in this misfire. (Available at

Dirty Dingus Magee: LAME

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