Sunday, October 15, 2017

Reluctant Heroes

This is my entry in the Hispanic Heritage Blogathon hosted by Once Upon a Screen

The Three Amigos stars Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short.  It is a comedy (you were expecting something else with those three...?) that takes place in 1916.  Most of the film takes place in Old Mexico, and has several familiar faces if you are a frequent viewer of movies with Hispanic actors.  Tony Plana, who plays El Guapo's second-in-command, Jefe, will probably be the most recognizable, but there are others, to be sure, depending on your movie-viewing habits.

It also has Alfonso Arau, a Mexican film star, but one who has had numerous appearances in Hollywood films, too.  You've seen him in The Wild Bunch and Romancing the Stone, as well  El Topo, if you are a devotee of foreign films.  He has also directed a few movies.  Like Water for Chocolate and A Walk in the Clouds will be the most familiar to American audiences.

Fred Asparagus, who plays the bartender at the cantina  (real name Fred Reveles) will also be familiar as a character actor in several movies. Jorge Cervera, a face you seen on countless TV shows, plays one of the banditos.   A fully clothed (darn!) Rebecca Ferrati, a former Playboy model, has a brief appearance.  And Patrice Martinez, the female star of the movie, may also look familiar.  She was the receptionist in the afterlife in Beetlejuice.

Three Amigos! (1986):

One for each other and all for one,
The three brave amigos are we.
Brother to brother and everyone,
A brave amigo.

Wherever they need us
Our destinies lead us, 
Amigos we'll always be together.
Wherever we go
We're three brave amigos,
And we'll always be amigos forever.

We are the three amigos.
We are the three amigos.
We are the three aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamigos!


Lucky Day (Steve Martin), Dusty Bottoms (Chevy Chase) and Ned Nedermeyer (Martin Short) are three actors in Hollywood during the silent era, who have a career as characters in a western series as "The Three Amigos".  As the movie starts they are in the office of the head of the studios, Harry Flugelman (Joe Mantegna).  It seems the Amigos films have started to become box office bombs, and Flugelman wants to go a different direction. But the egos of the actors cause them to get fired instead.

Luckily for them, a woman who lives in a remote village of Santa Poco in Mexico has trouble.  Carmen (Patrice Martinez) is looking for men to help her fight off a villain, known as "El Guapo" (Alfonso Arau), who has been consistently raiding their village.  None of the "upstanding" citizens who frequent the Cantina de Borracho (which translates as the Drunk's Bar) will help her.  She goes to a local mission which is showing one of the Amigos movies, and believing them to be real heroes, sends a telegram asking them to come save the village.  Of course, they have limited funds, so the message gets a little truncated.

When the Amigos receive the telegram, they think they are being asked to put on a show and head straight for Santo Poco.  At the same time, a German shows up in Santo Poco looking for El Guapo, to whom he is bringing guns and supplies.  If you see the potential for confusion already, you are well versed to know what happens next.  After killing a few hecklers and telling the bartender that his friends are much less understanding, the German leaves. The villagers initially think the German's  friends are the Amigos, who show up shortly thereafter.

When three banditos show up to raid the village, the Amigos put on what they think is a show and the banditos are startled and leave.  Of course, the villagers think the Amigos have successfully scared off the banditos, but they just go back and tell El Guapo about what has happened.

El Guapo vows to go back to the village tomorrow with 50 of his men.  When he arrives, the Amigos, still thinking this is all in fun, do their act again, including the Amigos' oath which is just fantastic, not only in its message but in the perfunctory seriousness in which it is stated:

"Wherever there is injustice, you will find us.
Wherever there is suffering, we'll be there.
Wherever liberty is threatened, you will find...
The Three Amigos!"

 (I don't think it's just a coincidence how reminiscent it sounds of Henry Fonda's speech in The Grapes of Wrath).  Jefe shoots Lucky in the arm, and the three realize that this just ain't the show they thought they were hired for and ride off in panic.  El Guapo takes Carmen prisoner and his men lay waste to the village.

Having second thoughts, the Amigos return to the village and find they are not exactly welcome anymore.  At this point Ned convinces the other two to help the Amigos become real heroes.  They ride off in search of El Guapo's hideout.  Meanwhile the Germans have shown up at the hideout and present El Guapo with the guns they brought.  The clueless Amigos arrive and are captured.  Hijinks ensue as the three try to escape from the clutches of El Guapo.

They rescue Carmen and ride back to the village.  But El Guapo is not pleased.  He takes his entire army with him to attack the village.  Reminiscent of The Magnificent Seven, the Amigos use the villagers innate abilities to help defend the village. In a dramatic (and comedic) soliloquy, Lucky exhorts the villagers to band together to help defeat El Guapo.

"In a way, all of us has an El Guapo to face.  For some, shyness might be their El Guapo.  For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo.  For us, El Guapo is a big, dangerous man who wants to kill us.  But as sure as my name is Lucky Day, the people of Santa Poco can conquer their own personal El Guapo, who also happens to be the actual El Guapo."

Since it would spoil one of the best scenes in the movie, I won't reveal how they defeat El Guapo.  But I will tell you it is funny as all get out.

Time to ride off into the sunset, folks.  Hasta la vista!




  1. It's been a lo-o-ong time since I've seen this film. I'd forgotten everything about it, except for those sparkly costumes! I really need to see this one again, especially after reading your entertaining review. :)

    1. Thanks. John Landis is one of my top 10 favorite directors. This one gets neglected too much in favor of his more popular (and, I admit it, funnier) movies, "Animal House" and "The Blues Brothers". Thanks for reading.

  2. A fun choice and enjoyable read. Now I want to visit the Three Amigos asap. In my mind the three stars of this movie are the last group of talented comedy stars. Not that there are no funny movies made today, but the natural talent of these three is certainly hard to find.

    Thank you so much for submitting this entry to the blogathon!


    1. Chevy Chase is altogether a better comedian when he is working with someone else. (I can't recall any movies in which he was the sole star that were very funny.) Martin Short has some great scenes in this one, and of course, Steve martin, what can you say...He could read the contents on a box of cereal and make it funny. Thanks for reading.

  3. This movie is a lot of fun, I have not seen it in years. Chevy was great in one of my favorite films, Foul Play, and also that weird 80s one Modern Problems. True, jhe needed other comic actors to bounce off of.
    I love that Martin Short and Martin are still going strong, I think they are currently touring comedy clubs if i read that correctly...

    1. Modern Problems was one of the ones I was thinking of when I said he had trouble without a fellow comedian to bounce off of... To each his own tastes, I guess. Foul Play was good, but then again, he was working with Goldie Hawn, so my position is still intact

  4. I've let the opportunity to watch this film escape my hands, but now I'll make sure to catch it the next time it airs on TV. Great review!
    I'll spend some time thinking about a topic for your blogathon, and when I make up my mind I'll tell you.
    Thanks for the kind comment!

    1. Thanks for reading. I think you'll like it.


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