Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
"Bullwhip Griffin" Has Lots Of Snap
Cleveland Press March 20, 1967
Like all movies from the Walt Disney studios, "Bullwhip Griffin" is good family entertainment. But some younger members of the family may find it a little slow going.
The motion picture is intended as a spoof of westerns and potentially had all the ingredients of a first-rate takeoff. It develops so slowly, however, that much of the movie's impact is lost along the way.
If you and the kids can hang on until the end there is a slapstick fight that makes up for what has gone before, being a mixture of rough house comedy, silent film anticness and all the cliches of a David-Goliath brawl.
THE BULLWHIP GRIFFIN OF THE TITLE is a Boston butler played with stiff upper lip by Roddy McDowall, a man who is unperturbable and indispensable no matter what the situation.
When his 12-year-old master (Bryan Russell) runs away from Boston for the gold fields of California, Griffin pursues and locates him, extricating him from one difficult or dangerous situation after the other.
Most of the situations evolve around a despicable villain, Judge Higgins, shamelessly overacted by Karl Malden.
THEIR ALLY IN THIS RUNNING BATTLE is a penniless actor, a man who has speeches rather than dialog in a portrayal joyfully and hammily enunciated by Richard Haydn.
Suzanne Pleshette is the boy's older sister, a proper Boston belle who also heads for California, becomes a dance hall queen in a saloon owned by fast-talking Harry Guardino.
Everything culminates in the previously mentioned brawl in which the slightly built Boston butler is pitted against Mountain-Ox, the saloon bouncer played by Mike Mazurki. It's the fight of the century folks as all the miners bet their gold.
The overall slowness of-the film is occasionally helped by the insertion of animated cartoon titles, corn-ball scene changers that are whimsical and sprightly.