Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Western goes high-brow -- but unsuccessfully

Cleveland Press June 19, 1971

"A Man Called Sledge" is an Italian Western gone high-brow. Instead of settling for plenty of violent action it adds psychological overtones as it evolves into a tale of greed.

Tales of greed are OK. Witness "Treasure of Sierre Madre." But no "Treasure ~ of Sierre Madre" is this.

Neither the script writer nor the director seemed capable of making anything better than an ordinary action film. Maybe if they hadn't been so overly ambitious they might have had a reasonably good Western.

What is disappointing that you figure a movie, with John Marley in it couldn't be all bad.Wrong again.

James Garner, his Maverick smile missing, plays the title role -- a tough, indestructible leader of a gang of outlaws. After wiping out three fellows who have just shot up a friend of his he meets an old timer (Marley) who knows all about huge gold shipments and the route they take from a mine to a vault. The vault is deep inside an impenetrable prison where Marley did time, sitting in a cell right next to all that gold.

FIRST GARNER and gang take a look at the pack train itself. It's guarded by a small army on horseback that deploys itself like the chorus in a Busby Berkely musical and is led by a fur capped fellow who looks like a character left over from a movie about Genhis Khan.

Next Garner gets himself arrested so that he can get into the prison and wouldn't you know it -- he lands in the cell next to the vault. He engineers a prison break so that while the guards are shooting down prisoners he and his men can make off with the gold.

Gold fever hits the gang and greed destroys them leaving only Garner, bitter and disappointed

Just like the audience.