The Reel Review
An ex-gambler and his buddies must evade a bunch of Wild West outlaws after a widow wanting to save her family’s reputation hires him to retrieve stolen gold bars from a sunken riverboat and secretly return them to the Denver Mint, in this 1969 Western comedy starring Burt Reynolds, Angie Dickinson, Clint Walker and Ossie Davis.
This cute heist-in-reverse is pretty corny as comedies go, but even so, it’s pretty clever in its silliness despite having the depth of a TV sitcom. (It feels reminiscent of 1965’s four-season Western series Wild Wild West which starred Robert Conrad.) The film’s stars show lots of personality, a surprising amount of skin and loads of winsome charisma. Fans of vintage Westerns will get a kick out of the period visuals.
While the quickly forgettable story is absurdly silly, at just over an hour and a half, the light-hearted caper and its hokey fight scenes don’t overstay their welcome, making Sam Whisky is a nice reminder of the sex appeal of stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
• Sam Whiskey was Burt Reynolds’s first successful movie role and his first onscreen kiss, with Angie Dickinson. After filming, Reynolds hung a photo of their bedroom scene above the bar in his home.
• Sam Whiskey was the first film under the MPAA’s new rating system to cut a nude scene – showing a topless Angie Dickinson – to avoid the then-unheard of, R rating.
• Two of the Sam Whiskey’s stars, Clint Walker and Burt Reynolds, each died of heart failure within four months of one another in 2018, at the respective ages of 82 and 90.
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