‘Dirty Dingus Magee’ Review: “Pale-Face Make Fool of Crazy Blanket”

Posted in Screening Room by - July 25, 2015

Until we started our Salute to Westerns, I’d never heard of Dirty Dingus Magee, and judging from the name, I never would have expected it to be a western film starring the extremely talented Frank Sinatra. Finding out that Sinatra was in the film, I then wouldn’t have expected his character to look like a hobo version of Charles Bronson. Filmed in 1970, Dirty Dingus Magee co-stars George Kennedy, with appearances from notable western veterans such as Jack Elam, Henry Jones, and Harry Carey Jr.

Dirty Dingus Magee follows Frank Sinatra and George Kennedy as they play an incompetent game of cat and mouse in and around the town of Yerkey’s Hole. It’s irreverent, with the whole town being built around a giant whorehouse. It’s relatively racist, with a Native American woman that talks like a baby and jumps Sinatra’s bones the moment she spots him. It is also completely over the top, including a scene in which an entire battalion of Federal cavalrymen rappel out of the aforementioned whorehouse, climb on their horses, and immediately go into military exercises. Unfortunately, the pacing is terrible, and many of the jokes fall flat, or were perhaps written for a different era of cinema. It’s directed by Burt Kennedy, the same man that made Support Your Local Sheriff, which we discussed in detail in our Kulturecast. Unfortunately, he doesn’t manage to bring the same level of comedy to Dirty Dingus, deciding to poke fun at the genre’s general use of “the code of the west” to rationalize criminal acts instead of the specific aspects of the western genre as he did in Support Your Local Gunfighter and Support Your Local Sheriff.

All things considered, Dirty Dingus Magee is a poor choice for a comedic western when other films of the same type do such a better job at it. Some of the supporting performances are alright, but the leads of the film are handicapped by the poor pacing. The comedy is off putting, with both racism and large amounts of uncomfortably blatant sex which is not only unattractive but also unfunny in its lack of subtlety. As far as I recall, Dirty Dingus Magee is the first movie I’ve seen this month that I’m actively suggesting that you not watch.

Final Say: Skip It

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Born in Arizona, he currently resides in Denton, Texas. When he isn't watching movies he's playing board games and drinking whatever he can get his hands on. John watches Djimon Honsou movies because he likes Spawn, which had Michael Jai White.
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