100 Rifles (1969) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Jim Brown, Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch star in this old-fashioned studio Western about the internal struggles in Mexico circa 1900. Reynolds plays a "half-breed" named Yaqui Joe, a Yaqui Indian from his mother's side, but fathered by a white man from Alabama. (Although for some reason his last name is listed as Herrera in the credits!!??) His tribe is at war with a renegade Mexican general (Fernando Lamas) whose plan is to kill any Yaquis that won't accept the yoke of oppression. In order to even the odds in the Yaqui/Mexican war, Reynolds robs a bank in Arizona and uses the money to buy rifles for the Indians. He thus creates two major enemies simultaneously - the Mexican general, and an American lawman (Jim Brown) who follows him back to Mexico, intent on returning him to Arizona dead or alive.

The idealistic lawman tries to stay focused on his job, but he can't help but get involved with the cause of the poor, rural Indians. Some of his change of heart is the result of compassion for the underdog Indians, but the lawman is pushed all the way into the struggle because the arrogant Mexican general simply refuses to co-operate with him and even orders him shot by a firing squad. The lawman therefore has no choice but to help Yaqui Joe before he can get him back to the States to face justice. The decision is made less painful for Big Jim by the fact that he falls in love with the female spitfire (Raquel Welch) who leads the Yaqui rebellion.

It's a solid premise, and the film was made with a substantial budget, backed by a score from Jerry Goldsmith. I really wanted to like this movie. It just wasn't in the cards. It ended up being a mediocre and formulaic film filled with missed opportunities:

1) The bickering love/hate relationship between Jim Brown and Burt Reynolds might have turned into a classic "screen buddy" pairing, but the character development and dialogue were kept in the background in order to feature riding and gunfights.

2) The action scenes just didn't turn out to be worth the sacrifice of plot and characterization. The action consists of a lot of guys clutching their chests and saying "ya got me, pard" in Spanish, and physics-defying scenes of rows of men all falling forward dramatically after having been shot in the chest. Not only did they all fall in the wrong direction, but they fell in a nice, neat choreographed line, as if they were falling into an art deco pool during a Busby Berkeley number.

3) The narrative is jumbled, so that the characters are where they need to be for the story to continue, as opposed to where they really could be or should be in the real world. The evil general's men are ambushed not once but twice, and in each case he is not with them, although we expect him to be. At one point, Burt and Jim and fifty Indians and the titular 100 rifles choose to flee when pursued by a mere dozen men on horseback - even though the evil general is with the riders, the Indians are on their own terrain, have the advantage of surprise, and would be defending their own own village. Instead of choosing to battle the general on those terms, they postpone the confrontation so they can take on the general in a fortified town where he has a full battalion armed with Gatling guns and cannons. Yeah, there's a plan.

The studios were still cranking out lots of Westerns in 1969, and 100 Rifles was overshadowed by several better ones with bigger stars, including two with John Wayne and two with Redford. Reynolds had not even become Dan August yet by 1969, and would not become a major movie star until Deliverance in 1972. (The Longest Yard followed in 1974; Smokey and the Bandit and Semi-Tough in 1977.)



Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid managed to develop the buddy rapport much better than 100 Rifles. The Wild Bunch did much better with the violent action sequences. True Grit won The Duke an Oscar. In comparison to those three landmark films, 100 Rifles and Sam Whiskey (another Reynolds oater from 1969) seemed to fall somewhere between drive-in movies and a bunch of kids playing cowboy.



  • The widescreen anamorphic transfer looks good
  • Original trailer
  • Three small galleries of stills.



Soledad Miranda shows her breasts and bum as a hooker who is trying to collect her fee from Burt Reynolds.

Raquel Welch doesn't strip, but takes an outdoor shower braless as part of a ruse to distract some soldiers.

The Critics Vote ...

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 5.5/10, which seems about right to me.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C-, a lame studio Western which should have been much better, given a solid premise and a healthy budget.

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