After four years in Obama's America, with its knee-jerk political correctness and diversity initiatives, it's downright refreshing to see a film with a jovial, good-natured attitude towards sexual slavery, being raped at gunpoint, and what can only be construed as Stockholm Syndrome. All of those things are present in Something Big, a genial western comedy starring Dean Martin and Brian Keith, and all are treated with the same gravity as Martin's easy-going antics. It's an otherwise insignificant film made horrifying by its comedic detours.
All his life, Joe Baker (Martin) has wanted to do 'something big' (a phrase repeated no less than 12,000 times over the course of this movie). He's decided that this big thing involves a gatling gun (still a rare commodity in the west), but the only way to get one is to buy it from Jonny Cobb (Albert Salmi), and the only payment he'll accept is a woman (why Cobb doesn't just abduct one himself with his big gun is never really addressed). Undaunted, Baker sets out to kidnap a woman from a stagecoach, and finally settles on Mary Anna Morgan (Honor Blackman), only to find out too late that she's the wife of Col. Morgan (Keith), the leader of the local cavalry outfit.
With Baker being played by Martin, you can imagine the direction that his character is taken. He's ambling, charming, and sympathetic as far as bandits go, but that kind of makes the fact that he never expresses any qualms about what Cobb will do with this woman even more unsettling (he even takes the advice that the Christian thing to do would be to find him a woman he would want for himself). Similarly, Something Big never appears at all bothered by a relatively brief scene in which Col. Morgan is raped at gunpoint by two women, only to bemusedly walk away from the incident the next morning. Tack on one of the most retrograde portrayals of Native Americans outside of Peter Pan, and Something Big is nothing short of a progressive nightmare, a vision of nostalgic cinema even the principals of Mad Men might have cringed at. Were there more of these lapses in decency, the film might be easier to dismiss, but its affable attitude towards them makes it somehow more insidious.
The theatrical trailer is included.
"Something Big" is on sale October 9, 2012 and is rated PG13. Western. Directed by Andrew V Mclaglen. Written by James Lee Barrett. Starring Dean Martin, Honor Blackman, Brian Keith, Ben Johnson, Albert Salmi.