Sergeants 3 [DVD] [Import]

Sergeants 3 [DVD] [Import]

Lurking inside this 1962 Rat Pack movie is a true film classic: 1939's buoyant Kipling adventure, <I>Gunga Din</I>. The plotline's about the same, but the action in <I>Sergeants 3</I> is transferred from colonial India to the Old West. Our three roistering Army buddies are played by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Peter Lawford, who are assigned a tense scouting mission just about the time Lawford is ready to quit the service in favor of--horrors--marriage. Sammy Davis, Jr., assumes the Gunga Din role, as a freed slave who tags along after the sergeants in hopes of joining the Army. (Yes, he blows a bugle.) Less successfully transferred than this outline is the way the cult from <I>Gunga Din</I> becomes a bloodthirsty tribe of Ghost Dancers in <I>Sergeants Three</I>, a bit of fudged movie history that will have to be taken with a grain of salt. But it's about as believable as everything else in this movie, right down to the fake beards on the cowpokes in the opening saloon brawl. Director John Sturges, who made this movie between his commercial high points of <I>The Magnificent Seven</I> and <I>The Great Escape</I>, apparently had little interest in making the interiors look like anything but studio sets. The exteriors fare much better, as many were shot in Utah's Bryce Canyon. The actors look as disengaged from this material as Sturges, with oomph sneaking in only when the boys are teasing each other (notably a sequence in which stuffy officer Joey Bishop--yes, he's in here too--is tricked into swallowing a laxative). It's all pretty flat, lending credence to the idea that the movie's long delay in securing a DVD release had less to do with racial insensitivity than with sheer lameness. <I>--Robert Horton</I>