Dirty Dingus Magee (1970)

PG-13   |    |  Comedy, Romance, Western

Dirty Dingus Magee (1970) Poster

Dirty Dingus Magee and his old rival Hoke Birdsill take turns at being either lawman or outlaw and being rivals or partners in crime, depending of the circumstances.


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24 May 2015 | Michael_Elliott
Two Dumb Outlaws
Dirty Dingus Magee (1970)

** (out of 4)

Dimwitted outlaw Dingus Magee (Frank Sinatra) runs into old friend Hoke Birdsill (George Kennedy) and robs him of $400. Hoke goes into the next town looking for a sheriff but finds the town not to have one but the Mayor (Anne Jackson), who also happens to run the local whore house, gives him the job so Hoke sets out to capture Magee but it turns out both are so stupid they keep up making new agreements to become rich.

DIRTY DINGUS MAGEE was a commercial and critical flop when it was originally released and star Sinatra pretty much gave up the acting career until 1977 when he made a television movie and then tried one more theatrical comeback in 1980. This film has been beaten to death by many critics but I think they were a tad bit unfair. Yes, the film isn't nearly as funny as it should have been and yes, perhaps Sinatra could have been more interested in doing better movies at the times but looking back on this film it's a pretty innocent film that manages a few nice laughs and there's no question that there are some good supporting performances.

Director Burt Kennedy directed countless Westerns in his career including some that mixed comedy in including SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF. This film manages to get a few nice laughs as both Sinatra and Kennedy's characters set up deals with each other but the two men are just so stupid that one has to cross the other but then isn't smart enough to get away. The majority of the comedy comes from small simple scenes where Sinatra gets in trouble and then has to knock out Kennedy or vice versa. There's a strong supporting group of players who also throw into the dumbness of the characters.

As far as the performances go, Sinatra really isn't too bad here but it's clear he really wasn't giving it his all. He had proved that he could be a great actor so it's easy to see why many critics felt he was sleepwalking in movies like this. Kennedy, on the other hand, is extremely good and manages to show off what a good comedic actor he was long before THE NAKED GUN series. The supporting cast contains good performances from Jack Elam who gets to play John Wesley Hardin and Lois Nettleton is great as a nymphomaniac who doesn't want to admit it. Jackson is also charming in her role as the Mayor and Michele Carey is good as the Indian woman who takes care of Dingus.

DIRTY DINGUS MAGEE certainly isn't a masterpiece as there are a great number of flaws. The biggest flaw is that there's really not much of a story as the same type of situation just keeps happening over and over. There's also an extremely long shoot out at the end of the picture, which just drags on and on. Still, fans of this type of film will want to check it out as there are a few nice laughs and there's no doubt that the supporting actors are quite good.

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