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A thoroughly enjoyable western with a first rate cast, 1968's BANDOLERO! is several ten gallon hats worth of fun.

Dean Martin is at his laid back best as bank robber Dee Bishop, who finds himself and his gang in jail after a botched bank job.

Quickly sentenced to hang under the watchful eye of classic sheriff July Johnson (George Kennedy at his best, the same year that "Cool Hand Luke" hit theatres) and his straight laced deputy Roscoe (Andrew Prine), Dee's in a tough spot.

James Stewart (Mace Bishop) pretends to be the hangman, plans to breakout his brother and soon the whole gang is on the run into Mexico, with the sheriff and a posse on their trail.

The boys kidnap the widow of their robbery murder, Maria Stoner and take her along with them, where she serves as a point of desire by every cowboy on the run AND the Sheriff.

Let's give them a break, because Maria is played by Raquel Welch in all her 1968 glory (and she is glorious). Sure, her Latino accent is rather spotty, but her acting is fine and when Dean and Jimmy both fall in love with her, you can relate.

Director Andrew MacLaglen (Shenandoah, Cahill US Marshall, Hellfighters) is a Western master. Martin and Stewart have a hell of a good time playing off each other and Jerry Goldsmith sets the whole film to an excellent, typically quirky music score that he composed between "Planet of the Apes" and "Patton".

Banolero! is a blast to watch, less predictable than I would have ever guessed and a solid B.

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