Previous Page | Home | Print this page Print This Page

Elvis Australia : Official Elvis Presley Fan Club

Charro! : National General 1969

By Elvis Australia
Source: www.elvis.com.au
July 22, 2004 - 6:47:00 PM

Charro! - National General 1969
Charro! - National General 1969
'Charro!' was Elvis Presley's twenty-ninth movie.

Sporting a beard and a tough demeanor, Elvis Presley stars as Jess Wade in Charro! an offbeat western that features no musical numbers. The minimal storyline finds Wade, a reformed badman, pitted against the members of his old gang. The gang is now led by Vince Hackett, played by character actor Victor French, who takes delight in terrorizing a small Mexican town.

The gang has stolen from the town a gold-plated cannon that was used by Emperor Maximilian in his ill-fated fight against popular Mexican leader Benito Juarez. The gang's motive is to force a ransom from the town for the cannon, but the gang also uses the cannon to hold the townspeople at bay. Only Wade can save the people from his former gang. European star Ina Balin costars as Tracy Winters, a dance hall hostess in love with Wade.

The song 'Charro!' was written by Billy Strange and Mac Davis and released as the B-side of the single 'Memories' from Elvis' 1968 TV special. Charro! was the only Elvis movie in which he did not sing. His singing voice is heard only over the credits performing the title song. 'Charro!' the song was recorded on October 15, 1968 at the Samuel Goldwyn Studio in Hollywood.

The session was conducted by Hugo Montenegro, who was known for his work on the theme to another western movie, 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly', starring Clint Eastwood.

Charro! - Japanese Movie Poster
Charro! - Japanese Movie Poster

'Charro!', filmed in Arizona during July and August of 1968. At the time, Elvis had just finished taping his 1968 television special, 'Elvis', which would air in December. He was looking great and grew a full beard for this rugged role. Elvis' entourage, as well as his manager Colonel Parker, got into the spirit and also grew beards. The working title of the film was 'Come Hell, Come Sundown'.

Elvis Presley & Ina Balin in Charro! From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!
Elvis Presley & Ina Balin in Charro! From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!
Elvis' leading lady was Ina Balin, Photos who worked in such films as 'The Black Orchid', 'The Young Doctors' and 'The Greatest Story Ever Told'.

The late Victor French played the villain Vince Hackett. His many roles included his working with Michael Landon on television as a regular on 'Little House on the Prairie' series and co-star on the 'Highway to Heaven' series. He also starred in the series 'Carter Country'. French took a turn at directing on various TV series including 'Fame', 'Father Murphy', 'Dallas' and 'Buck Rogers in the 25th Century'. He was the son of a stunt man and made his debut with a small role in the television series 'Lassie'.

Elvis Presley & Ina Balin in Charro! From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!
Elvis Presley in Charro! From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!

Elvis Presley in Charro! From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!
Elvis Presley in Charro! From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!

Barbara Werle played Sara Ramsey, the sherriff's wife. This was not Werle's first time to work with Elvis - she had had roles in the Elvis films 'Tickle Me' and 'Harum Scarum'. This longtime character actress played many roles in both film and television productions. Among her credits are the films 'The Battle of the Bulge' and 'The Rare Breed' and television series such as 'The Virginian', 'Ironside', and 'Laredo'.

Charro! - French Movie Poster
Charro! - French Movie Poster

Paul Brinegar played the town barber Opie Keetch. Although he had a long career as a character actor in shows like 'Perry Mason', 'Guns of Will Sonnett', 'Petrocelli' and 'Matt Houston', he might be best remembered for his role of Wishbone in the TV series 'Rawhide' with Clint Eastwood.

A number of other veteran character actors played roles in this film. The role of Billy Roy Hackett was played by Solomon Sturges, son of celebrated film director Preston Sturges.

Elvis Presley in Charro! From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!
Elvis Presley in Charro! From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!
Billy Strange, whose early career was as as session guitarist in Hollywood, wrote the song 'Charro!'. This was not his first time to work with Elvis. Among his gigs had been to play on the soundtrack sessions for the Elvis films 'It Happened At The World's Fair', 'Viva Las Vegas' and 'Roustabout'. Strange became a writer and producer.

Elvis Presley in Charro! From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!
Elvis Presley in Charro! From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!

He often collaborated with Mac Davis, with whom he co-wrote the songs 'A Little Less Conversation', 'Nothingville', 'Memories' and 'Clean Up Your Own Backyard', all of which were recorded by Elvis. Strange produced the soundtrack session for the Elvis movie 'Live a Little, Love A Little'.

Costumes for 'Charro!' were by Robert Fuca, whose work also included the earlier Elvis film 'It Happened At The World's Fair'. Among his other film credits are 'Mutiny on the Bounty', 'How The West Was Won', 'The Music Man' and 'Planet of the Apes'. His television credits include the series 'Mod Squad' and 'Hawaiian Eye'.

Rodd Redwing played Lige, a member of the Hackett gang. Mr. Redwing was well known as a Hollywood 'fast draw artist' and often taught other actors, including Elvis, how to handle guns for their acting roles. He also made leather gun holsters.

Redwing made the one that Elvis used in this film. It is tooled inside with an inscription to Elvis. From time to time, the holster has been on display in exhibits at Graceland along with the costume Elvis wore in the film.

The movie was written, directed and produced by Charles Marquis Warren, who had a long career in western movies. He is credited with writing such films as 'Streets of Laredo', 'Oh! Susanna', and 'Springfield Rifle'.

Elvis Presley and Charro! directer and producer Charles Marquis Warren - From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!
Elvis Presley and Charro! directer and producer Charles Marquis Warren - From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!

The movie was shot at the Apacheland Movie Ranch in Apache Junction, Arizona near the Superstition Mountains, site of many paranormal stories including the famous 'Lost Dutchman Gold Mine'.

Promotions for this film included twenty-five Southwestern cities which held 'Charro Girl' contests, with finalists appearing in Dallas and Austin. In Austin, 'Charro! Day' was hosted by the then Governor Preston Smith. Likewise, the governors of Oklahoma and Louisiana declared 'Charro! Day' in honor of previews in their states. A number of actors from the film traveled to appearances at these sneak previews.

The film opened nationwide on March 13, 1969.

Behind the Scenes of Charro!

With its gritty look, violent antihero, and cynical point of view, Charro! was obviously patterned after the grim Italian westerns of the 1960s. Elvis' character, Jess Wade, is costumed similarly to Clint Eastwood's notorious 'Man with No Name' from Sergio Leone's Italian westerns.

Both wore a scruffy beard and dust-covered western garb, and both kept a well-worn cigar in their mouths. The music in Charro! was scored by Hugo Montenegro, who was responsible for the memorable score of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Unfortunately, director Charles Marquis Warren was no match for Sergio Leone, and Charro! suffers from poor production values.

At the time, much was made about the absence of songs in the film, as though that fact proved Charro! was a serious effort. Advertisements for the film declared Charro! featured 'a different kind of role...a different kind of man'. Elvis granted more interviews and generated more publicity for Charro! than he had for any film in a long time. One interview quoted him as saying, 'Charro! is the first movie I ever made without singing a song. I play a gunfighter, and I just couldn't see a singing gunfighter'. Eventually, Elvis did agree to sing the title tune, but there are no songs within the body of the film.

Charro! was filmed in the late summer of 1968 after Elvis' comeback special had been shot for television, though the special would not air until December. Elvis seemed to have taken stock of his career that year: He recorded music that was not merely fodder for soundtrack albums, and he starred in a prestigious television special. Perhaps Elvis was hoping to upgrade his acting career as well by appearing in a completely different type of film. Unfortunately, the film was a dismal critical failure; much of the blame was placed at the feet of director Charles Marquis Warren. Warren had been a writer, director, and producer for several western television series during the 1960s. Though he had not worked in the cinema since the 1950s, he chose to produce, direct, and write the screenplay for Charro!

Soundtrack

Elvis Presley in Charro! From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!
Elvis Presley in Charro! From the book, Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro!
Elvis Presley Lyrics Charro!
Elvis Presley Lyrics Let's Forget About The Stars (Cut)

Recorded at Samuel Goldwyn Studios, Los Angeles. November 1968.

Musicians : Elvis Presley (vocals), Tommy Tedesco, Ralph Grasso, Howard Roberts (guitars), Carl O'Brien (drums), Don Randi (piano), Emile Radocchia (percussion), the Jordanaires (vocals).

Charro! - National General 1969

Directed Charles Marquis Warren
Writing Credits Frederick Louis Fox (story), Charles Marquis Warren
A National General Production

Overview:
Elvis Presley .... Jess Wade, Ina Balin .... Tracey, Victor French .... Vince, Barbara Werle .... Sara Ramsey, Solomon Sturges .... Billy Roy, Lynn Kellogg .... Marcie, James Sikking .... Gunner, Paul Brinegar .... Opie Keetch, Harry Landers .... Heff, Tony Young .... Lieut. Rivera, James Almanzar .... Sheriff Ramsey, Charles H. Gray .... Mody, John Pickard .... Jerome Selby, Garry Walberg .... Martin Tilford, Duane Grey .... Gabe.

Elvis Presley as The One Called Charro! is a great book, one of the standout releases from JAT Productions and a must have for all Elvis fans! This 96 page book contains over 150 photographs in color and black & white and features documents and informative text pertaining to the film.

From on the screen to behind the scenes this book has it all.

Photos

Photos Photos From Charro!
Photos Jerry Schilling as Elvis' Stunt Double

DVDs

Buy Charro! DVD
Buy Elvis 75th Anniversary Collection (17 films) DVD Set [NTSC Format]
Buy Elvis DVD Movies
Buy DVD Movie Box Sets

CDs

There is no Charo! CD.

Books

The Elvis Files series of book, seven volumes ...

Buy The Elvis Files Volume 1, 1953-1956
Buy The Elvis Files Volume 2, 1957-1959
Buy The Elvis Files Volume 3, 1960-1964
Buy The Elvis Files Volume 4, 1965-1968
Buy The Elvis Files Volume 5, 1969-1970
Buy The Elvis Files Volume 6, 1971-1973
Buy The Elvis Files Volume 7, 1974-1977

Plus the dedicated movie book series, >> Frame By Frame ...


© Copyright 2014 by Elvis Australia : www.elvis.com.au & www.elvispresley.com.au

No part of any article on this site maybe re-printed for public display without permission.