16 December 2002 | Poseidon-3
Not "Great", but not as bad as it's reputation would suggest.
In the western town of Friendly, there's a bank so impenetrable that even as hordes of Mexicans stampede down the street to rob it, people continue chatting and throwing horseshoes because it's just that impossible to rob. This is the bank referred to in the title of this spoofy western, in which no less than four separate teams are planning to break in, most of whom want the loot that famous outlaws have stashed there (because of it's fortress-like stature and a manager who keeps the books hidden from authorities.) Mostel plays a faux-reverend whose flock include a tunnel-digger, a demolitions man, an artist and a decoy (played by a shockingly curvy and flesh-flashing Novak.) He is the top-billed star of the film, but it's really an ensemble piece not unlike "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" or any other overdone comedy in which disparate people want the same thing and wind up fighting for it in an extended chase at the end. Walker plays a Texas Ranger who wants inside the bank for it's account information. Other potential bank robbers include Tamiroff and Storch leading the Mexican contingent of bandits and Akins as an outlaw who claims to hate killing people, though he does so frequently. The film is broad and occasionally loud, but has been unfairly dismissed as worthless and unfunny. Though the humor is low and sometimes lame, there are still a number of laughs to be had. All of the performers are quite dedicated to their roles and to the parodic elements of the story. Some of them just tend to overplay it. Mostel has an outlandishly ridiculous musical number which is funny in spite of itself. It's so tacky and ludicrous it winds up being entertaining on a camp level. Novak, not exactly a strong comedienne, has a lot to offer physically. She betrays all her fine earlier work in films like "Vertigo" (!) and "The Man with the Golden Arm" taking on such a decorative and exploitive role, but does deliver on those terms. Walker is everyone's ideal authority figure. Sure and proud, he's the perfect choice for his role. He has a dazzlingly bizarre picnic scene with Novak in which he is slipped some peyote and is given a rare opportunity to cut loose and have some fun while displaying (for one of the last times?) his tremendous chest. At 42, he puts anyone else on earth to shame hanging from a tree by one arm and rolling around in the grass with his head upside down. Many other familiar actors round out the cast, notably "All My Children"'s Warrick in a weak role that she makes the very most of. Cook also does well as Akin's nervous sidekick. It's all a big, overblown mess by the end (and in a grievous error, Walker is offscreen for ages in the climax), but it's worth a look for several amusing moments and the physical attributes of Novak and Walker. The approach to drugs is dated and it doesn't always hold up completely, but there is a certain degree of cleverness in it. One note: A free bag of peanuts to anyone who can understand what Tamiroff is saying in his opening scene.