The little-seen Bandera Bandits has quite a reputation amongst Spaghetti Western
aficionados, but in truth it’s a lesser entry in the genre that seems to revel in
the crudeness of its lead character, a grungy thief called Jed (Tony Miljan), who
looks like Che Guevera and whose sole moral ‘virtue’ seems to be that he doesn’t
rape virgins. He does, however, drink cow’s milk direct from the teat, which marks
him out as something of a character. Jed is hunted down by obsessed lawman Sheriff
Franciscus (Telly Savalas), who has numerous opportunities to take out his quarry
but seems to be intent on taking out his man only when they are on equal terms, which
means he squanders at least two cast-iron opportunities when he has Jed at his mercy.
Susan George is Sonny, the tomboy virgin who insists on tagging along with Jed. They
eventually become the old West’s answer to Bonny and Clyde, holding up wealthy stagecoach
passengers and distributing the wealth amongst the residents of Jed’s home village.
They make an unlikely and unlikeable couple, constantly screaming at one another,
swearing their devotion one minute then taking pot shots at each other the next.
But it’s a volatile relationship that lacks depth because Jed and Sonny are one-dimensional
caricatures with no redeeming features.
The story is certainly unique, and there are some neat ideas in the mix, but they’re
presented on the screen in such a dull, lacklustre fashion that any originality the
movie might possess is lost in the delivery. Savalas’s character is by far the
most interesting but, like all the key characters, he follows no discernible arc,
learning nothing from his misadventures. The dubbing, as with almost all Spaghetti
Westerns, is truly horrible, full of unconvincing grunts and exclamations by actors
who remain anonymous for a reason. Avoid Bandera Bandits unless you’re a diehard
Spaghetti Western completist.