Raquel Welch Collection
Hidden in subliminal fashion on the cover of this wonderful 5 DVD boxed set of Raquel Welch films are the words "Sex Goddess," which says something about Hollywood marketing years after the studios cashed in on Welch's features more than her abilities, abilities which are substantial. Combining her motion pictures from 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970 and 1976 makes for a smart overview of the talented actress's earlier years and gives much insight into the the craft of one of the world's biggest movie stars during the time each picture was released. Her One Million Years B.C. poster may have sold more than Ray Harryhausen's dinosaurs, but his special effects are what gave the Hammer film its credibility, and they are more fun for some of us than the creatures who stomped in and on Jurassic Park. 1967's Fathom is colorful, but missed the mark, her talents underutilized again and leaving the star in need of a meatier role. It came quickly with 1968's Bandolero!. Bandolero! sports a great cast tucked inside a great big-screen Gunsmoke-style epic, director Andrew V. McLaglen having worked on many a Gunsmoke episode. If you are familiar with the TV show but not with McLaglen's work, you'll feel the Gunsmoke aura as it pervades a lost Western epic drenched in Spaghetti Western blood. Welch draws upon her Bolivian heritage and pulls out a terrific performance 19 years before her critically acclaimed work in Right To Die, something, obviously, lost in the equation. Myra Breckinridge is the anomaly here, Gore Vidal's brilliant novel about a sex change obsessed with all aspect of films and filmmaking is almost totally destroyed by Michael Sarne's awful direction. Superb acting from Mae West, John Houston, Welch and poor Roger Herren, who disappeared from Hollywood after being sodomized by Raquel in this film (talk about art reflecting life; the actor vanished from movies in much the same way his character was fated for doom) are wasted because of Sarne's selfish extravagance. Rex Reed is totally out of place as Raquel Welch's male personality and because the film didn't initially catch on (even now it is just a cult classic) few people realized that John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas wrote the theme song. It has become a camp piece of pop culture, but - like Roger Herren - deserved a much better result. Mother, Jugs & Speed is even more outrageous in its abuse of acting talent, as if pre-conceived notions of what films should have been in the day overshadowed what could have developed; the potential one saw on paper. Only Bandolero! totally succeeds because it gets right down to business being exactly what it is supposed to be. Though not the film with the most to offer it provides evidence that given the right script Welch could have made One Million Years B.C., Fathom, Myra Breckinridge, and Mother, Jugs and Speed more compelling than they are. All five trailers plus the trailer to Fantastic Voyage (sadly, missing from this 5 DVD boxed set) show up in the "Raquel Welch Theater" of trailers as a bonus feature on Mother, Jugs and Speed.