Filmed at Apacheland July 21 - August 3, 1968
98 Minutes - Released in theaters March 13, 1969
Directed by Charles Marquis Warren
Elvis Presley, Ina Balin, Victor french, Barbara Werle, Solomon Sturges, Lynn Kellog, Paul Brinegar, Harry Landers, Tony Young, James Almanzar, Charles Gray, John Pickard, Garry Walberg, Duane Grey, Levis Brown, Paige White
BEHIND THE SCENES:
Round-the-clock security was provided by the Pinal County Sheriff's Posse at the Superstition Inn in Apache Junction, Arizona, to control the curious people attracted by the presence of Elvis Presley, when he was there to film National General Pictures' "Charro!", in a rare non-singing role and his 29th movie. Several people flew over 500 miles just to see Elvis. One lady brought him a cake from 300 miles away. Several girls drove from Los Angeles, sleeping in their cars at night, just to get a glimpse of their hero. Even in the tiny community of Apache Junction, there were 50 to 100 people in Presley's hotel lobby every morning at sunrise to see him when he went to work. "I would guess Elvis has signed more than 3,000 autographs since we were there," said producer-director Charles Marquis Warren, "and he seemed to enjoy it." Working with Presley for the first time, Warren praised the star as hard-working, polite and easygoing. Scenes were filmed at Apacheland Movie Ranch, 7 miles east of Apache Junction. Other scenes were filmed at the Salt River near Mesa, Arizona and Old Tucson Studios in Tucson, Arizona.
Originally, this movie was written for western star Clint Eastwood and the title was "Come Hell, Come Sundown" but because of a contract dispute with Paramount, Clint was barred from working with National General Pictures at the same time. The other movie he was making was called 'Paint Your Wagon' with Lee Marvin. Once Eastwood pulled out of the film most of the financial backers went too. Even though Elvis was a big name, the western movie industry didn't have confidence he could pull off the role of a rough and tough cowboy. Weeks before filming began, the directors and producers decided to change the name of the movie from 'Come Hell, Come Sundown' to a more toned down title that fit Presley's soft spoken persona.
The year is 1870. Jess Wade (Elvis Presley) rides into a Mexican border town in response to an urgent message from a former girlfriend, Tracy (Ina Balin). The message, however, is a ruse, and he finds himself surrounded by the guns of his former friends, a band of outlaws with whom he once rode. Jess had left them a year before to go straight. Led by Vince (Victor French) and his deranged brother, Billy Roy (Solomon Sturges), they take him prisoner. Jess is brought to their mountain hideout where they have Mexico's famed gold and silver Victory Gun, the weapon that fired the last shot against Maximilian and freed the country. The outlaws have stolen it and intend to sell it to the highest bidder. Jess tells him that soldiers on both sides of the border will hunt them down. Vince produces a counterfeit "Wanted" poster, proclaiming that Jess had stolen the cannon and offering a reward for his capture - dead or alive.
Jess manages to to get to the village of Rio Seco (Apacheland™) on the U.S. side of the border. He has friends in the town and expects to find safety there. Sheriff Ramsey (James Almanzar), who befriended Jess when he was a boy and who later talked him into leaving the gang, believes him to be innocent and has not displayed the 'Wanted" poster. Tracy runs the town saloon, and loves Jess. Billy Roy arrives in Rio Seco for a night on the town and seriously wounds the sheriff in a gunfight. He is subdued by Jess who drags him off to jail. The wounded sheriff insists on deputizing Jess. Knowing that Vince will try to free his brother, Jess arms the townspeople.
Vince demands that Jess free Billy Roy but the new deputy counters with an order that Vince turn the cannon over to him so that it may be returned to Mexico. Instead, the outlaw gives Jess until sundown to turn the prisoner loose or threatens to destroy Rio Seco with the cannon. A platoon of Mexican cavalry, led by Lieutenant Rivera (Tony Young), rides into town. Vince tells Jess they are looking for him. Jess threatens to kill Billy Roy, warning Vince to get rid of them. Vince agrees and offers to take the soldiers to the gun, but instead leads them into an ambush. Meanwhile the cannon is moved to a point near Rio Seco.
Despite the repeated warning that the cannon will destroy the town, Jess refuses to free Billy Roy. A shot from the cannon topples the heavy church bell and destroys the tower. (at Superstition Mountain Museum) This is followed by another shot which destroys the sheriff's house, killing him. The townspeople are in a state of panic and they urge Jess to free Billy Roy before the town is destroyed. Jess removes Billy Roy from jail and the two ride out of town. The people aren't sure if Jess has left for their sake or defected to the enemy.
The pair approach Vince's gang and Jess demands they surrender. If they shoot at him, he will kill Billy Roy. A fight ensues and several members of the gang are killed. Billy Roy dies when the wagon with the cannon breaks loose and crushes him. The fight is over and Vince is a beaten man. Jess takes him prisoner and drives the wagon into town. When the townspeople see what he has done, they ask him to stay on as sheriff but Jess declines. He must take the cannon and Vince back to Mexico. Tracy asks if he will be coming back. Jess says no, but he promises to send for her. He slowly rides out of town.