something big (1971)

GP | 107-108 mins | Comedy, Western | November 1971

Director:

Andrew V. McLaglen

Cinematographer:

Harry Stradling, Jr.

Editor:

Robert Simpson

Production Designer:

Alfred Sweeney

Production Companies:

Stanmore Productions, Inc., Penbar Productions, Inc., Cinema Center Films
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HISTORY

The print viewed was missing approximately ten minutes. The title of the film, as shown onscreen and in reviews and HR production charts, appears without capitalization. Opening and closing cast credits are listed in the same order, except for Carol White, whose opening credit appears at the end of the list and reads: "and Carol White as Dover." Although his appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed, a Mar 1971 HR news item reported that Mexican track star Pedro Espinosa had been cast as an Apache runner. A modern source adds Joe Gray to the cast. As noted in a Mar 1971 DV article, the film was shot in Durango, Mexico. According to a Mar 1971 DV article, film processing for something big was done at Estudios Churubusco in Mexico City.
       Several reviews, among them NYT , compared the film to those of John Ford with whom director Andrew V. McLaglen had worked as an assistant director. Although generally unfavorable, the New York magazine review noted that the intention of the story was to "spoof" the genre of Western films. A Dec 1971 DV news item reported that Justicia, an organization aimed at protecting the image of Chicanos in films and television, boycotted something big because a Mexican servant calls Dean Martin's character "Señor Baker," which organization spokesperson Ray Andrade stated was equivalent to a "black man calling a white man 'Massa Jim.'" The organization also took offense at the fact that the "main antagonists" in the story were Mexicans who were "shot down by one ... More Less

The print viewed was missing approximately ten minutes. The title of the film, as shown onscreen and in reviews and HR production charts, appears without capitalization. Opening and closing cast credits are listed in the same order, except for Carol White, whose opening credit appears at the end of the list and reads: "and Carol White as Dover." Although his appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed, a Mar 1971 HR news item reported that Mexican track star Pedro Espinosa had been cast as an Apache runner. A modern source adds Joe Gray to the cast. As noted in a Mar 1971 DV article, the film was shot in Durango, Mexico. According to a Mar 1971 DV article, film processing for something big was done at Estudios Churubusco in Mexico City.
       Several reviews, among them NYT , compared the film to those of John Ford with whom director Andrew V. McLaglen had worked as an assistant director. Although generally unfavorable, the New York magazine review noted that the intention of the story was to "spoof" the genre of Western films. A Dec 1971 DV news item reported that Justicia, an organization aimed at protecting the image of Chicanos in films and television, boycotted something big because a Mexican servant calls Dean Martin's character "Señor Baker," which organization spokesperson Ray Andrade stated was equivalent to a "black man calling a white man 'Massa Jim.'" The organization also took offense at the fact that the "main antagonists" in the story were Mexicans who were "shot down by one man at a machine gun." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Feb 1971.
---
Daily Variety
5 Mar 1971
p. 1, 22-23.
Daily Variety
11 Nov 1971.
---
Daily Variety
22 Dec 1971.
---
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 17-18.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1971
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 1971
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 1971.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
24 Dec 1971.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Dec 1971
Section II, p. 12.
New York
31 Jan 1972.
---
New York Times
22 Jan 1972
p. 35.
The Times (London)
17 Dec 1971.
---
Variety
10 Nov 1971
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
Key grip
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Property
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus score comp and cond
Supv mus ed
SOUND
Supv sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Dog trainer
Head wrangler
Loc auditor
Unit pub
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"something big," music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David, sung by Mark Lindsay.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1971
Premiere Information:
Las Vegas, NV opening: 11 November 1971
Production Date:
17 February--mid April 1971 in Durango, Mexico
Copyright Claimant:
Stanmore Productions and Penbar Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
23 September 1971
Copyright Number:
LP40526
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
107-108
MPAA Rating:
GP
Countries:
Mexico, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the 1870s, Fort Dry Well’s commander, Colonel Donald Morgan, is scheduled to retire after thirty years in the Cavalry. To ensure that he does not change his mind, Morgan’s wife Mary Anna is taking a stagecoach from the East to meet him. When Morgan hears vague rumors that Joe Baker, an amiable renegade with big dreams, is planning "something big," Morgan sends his scout, Jesse Bookbinder, to find out exactly what Joe is up to. Also privy to rumors about Joe’s plans is outlaw Johnny Cobb, who is wanted dead or alive in both the U.S. and Mexico, and therefore exiled far from civilization. Cobb and his partner, Angel Moon, approach Joe and offer to sell him a Gatling gun, but, having no use for money, Cobb insists that his price for obtaining the gun is a woman, a luxury rarely found in the Southwest wilderness. Despite having no idea where he can find a woman who will cooperate, Joe agrees to Cobb’s offer. Among Joe’s cohorts are Mexican Luis Muños, Scotsman Tommy MacBride and a one-legged cook, Joe Pickens. When the gang stops to drink at the Badwater saloon, the bartender gives Joe a letter from Joe's fiancée, Tommy’s sister Dover, who has agreed to wait two years for him to make his fortune. Having determined that his time is up, Dover announces in the letter that she is traveling from Pennsylvania to fetch him. With little time left to accomplish his goal, Joe takes his men to the outskirts of a village known to be hiding an enormous cache of treasure stashed by bandits who have plundered all over ... +


In the 1870s, Fort Dry Well’s commander, Colonel Donald Morgan, is scheduled to retire after thirty years in the Cavalry. To ensure that he does not change his mind, Morgan’s wife Mary Anna is taking a stagecoach from the East to meet him. When Morgan hears vague rumors that Joe Baker, an amiable renegade with big dreams, is planning "something big," Morgan sends his scout, Jesse Bookbinder, to find out exactly what Joe is up to. Also privy to rumors about Joe’s plans is outlaw Johnny Cobb, who is wanted dead or alive in both the U.S. and Mexico, and therefore exiled far from civilization. Cobb and his partner, Angel Moon, approach Joe and offer to sell him a Gatling gun, but, having no use for money, Cobb insists that his price for obtaining the gun is a woman, a luxury rarely found in the Southwest wilderness. Despite having no idea where he can find a woman who will cooperate, Joe agrees to Cobb’s offer. Among Joe’s cohorts are Mexican Luis Muños, Scotsman Tommy MacBride and a one-legged cook, Joe Pickens. When the gang stops to drink at the Badwater saloon, the bartender gives Joe a letter from Joe's fiancée, Tommy’s sister Dover, who has agreed to wait two years for him to make his fortune. Having determined that his time is up, Dover announces in the letter that she is traveling from Pennsylvania to fetch him. With little time left to accomplish his goal, Joe takes his men to the outskirts of a village known to be hiding an enormous cache of treasure stashed by bandits who have plundered all over Mexico. Joe’s plan is to steal the treasure, which will make all of them rich and allow Joe to return East with a feeling of accomplishment. Joe reports that one hundred gunmen are said to be guarding the village, and although Joe’s gang can see the corpses of men who were shot trying to steal the treasure, Joe believes that his gang can overcome the guards with a Gatling gun. As Joe and his gang confer about the situation, gunmen shoot at them, but they manage to escape. Meanwhile, in Morgan’s honor, soldiers gather at the fort to offer their commander a toast. So loyal are they that a fight commences between two of Morgan’s closest subordinates over who should present him with a gift of an Indian headdress, and the personal squabble progresses into a saloon-wide brawl. Still looking for a woman for Cobb, Joe has his men ambush a stagecoach and abduct a female passenger, who turns out to be Mary Anna. When Morgan learns of the kidnapping, he and Bookbinder lead a troop to search for her. Although Bookbinder says that Joe has never hurt a woman, Morgan cannot be comforted. At the hideout where he awaits Cobb’s delivery of the Gatling gun, Joe explains his plan to Mary Anna, apologizing to her for not being a good man. However, she seems unperturbed, causing Joe to wonder about her calmness and why she spent thirty years living separate from Morgan in the East. Joe tries to explain to her how the raid on the village is his only chance to fulfill his dream of accomplishing "something big," but breaks off, believing that she could not possibly understand. Mary Anna says that she does understand, in the same way she understood why Morgan had to be in the cavalry all those years. Furthermore, she says she does not believe that Joe will trade her for the gun, because they both know she is worth more. Mary Anna’s quiet confidence attracts Joe, but instead of taking advantage of her, he goes off alone to have a sexual tryst with man-hungry sisters Polly and Carrie Standall, who are mining Polly’s deceased husband’s claim. When Dover arrives at Fort Dry Wells and asks for Joe, she is not surprised when Sergeant Fitzsimmons tells her that Joe is wanted for stealing someone's wife. Despite his tryst with the Standall sisters, Joe is still attracted to Mary Anna and admits to Tommy that he is wrong to deliver her to Cobb. Tommy advises him to make a decision about Mary Anna's disposition before Cobb arrives. Meanwhile, Cobb and Angel meet with Malachi Morton, who had promised to procure the Gatling gun for a price. However, when Cobb presents the agreed-upon cash, Malachi gets greedy and insists that Cobb pay more. To solve their dilemma, Angel throws a knife at Malachi, killing him. In search of Joe, Morgan and Bookbinder separate from the rest of the troop and ask for information at Badwater’s saloon, where the Mexicans resent Morgan’s condescending behavior and refuse to help him. Morgan and Bookbinder continue their search until nightfall, when they reach Polly and Carrie’s homestead and ask for permission to sleep in the barn. Unwilling to let an opportunity pass, the sisters hold them at gunpoint and insist that they bed down in the house with them. That night, as Joe's men drink and revel around the campfire, Joe assures Mary Anna that he will not hand her over to Cobb, and admits his interest in her. Not impervious to Joe’s charms, Mary Anna answers a question he asked days earlier, saying that she was able to live alone for so long because one month out of every year, Morgan would come home and they would fall in love all over again. She waited all year to be with him, but admits it would not have been as romantic had she shared his life in the hot and dusty West. The next morning, Pickens delivers Joe the news that Dover has arrived at Dry Wells. When Joe and Tommy go to the fort to see Dover, she gives Joe a few days to decide to marry her or free her to marry another man she has lined up in Pittsburgh. Morgan and Bookbinder encounter Cobb and Angel on the road and, suspicious, insist on searching their wagon and find the Gatling gun, which Cobb claims was bought from a man going out of business. Knowing that it was stolen from the El Paso Federal Arsenal, Morgan gives them the choice of leaving without the gun or spending twenty or more years in prison. When they are reluctant to abandon the gun, Morgan guesses that they are looking for Joe. Cobb leads Morgan to Joe's hideout, and when Morgan slugs Joe, Mary Anna breaks up the fight. After Morgan declares he is confiscating the Gatling gun, Mary Anna reminds him that, as he has been officially retired for two days, he is no longer responsible to the Army and urges him to let Joe have it. Angel, unhappy with the turn of events, prepares to throw his knife, but is shot dead by Luis. Taking pity on Cobb, Morgan directs him to the Standall homestead, where, to his delight, Polly and Carrie eagerly force him inside. With Morgan’s permission, Joe and his men depart with the gun. When Joe’s gang and a group of friendly Indians approach the treasure-laden village, they find it mysteriously quiet. Meeting no resistance, they ride in and ask for the leader of the bandits, Emilio Estevez. Garbed as a priest, Estevez claims that his lawless days are over, then surreptitiously tries to pull out a weapon, which provokes a gunfight. Despite being outnumbered, Joe’s men have the advantage of the Gatling gun, which convinces the survivors of the gunfight to flee, leaving the treasure for Joe and his men. Shortly after they divide the loot, Joe and Dover board a stagecoach heading east, which they share with the Morgans. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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