Sergeants 3 is a 1962 American western comedy film directed by John Sturges and featuring Rat Pack icons Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. It was the last film to feature all five members of the Rat Pack due to Sinatra's falling out with Lawford.
|Directed by||John Sturges|
|Produced by||Frank Sinatra|
Howard W. Koch
|Written by||W.R. Burnett|
Sammy Davis Jr.
|Music by||Billy May|
|Cinematography||Winton C. Hoch|
|Edited by||Ferris Webster|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||$4.3 million|
The film is a remake of Gunga Din (1939) set in the American West as opposed to India as in the original film.
Mike (Sinatra), Chip (Martin), and Larry (Lawford) are three lusty, brawling U. S. Cavalry sergeants stationed in Indian Territory in 1870. Mike and Chip are determined to prevent Larry from carrying out his decision to leave the Army at the end of his current hitch and marry the beautiful Amelia Parent.
One night the three cronies befriend a trumpet-playing former slave, Jonah Williams (Davis), who dreams of someday becoming a trooper. A tribe of fanatical Indians begins terrorizing the area, and the headstrong Chip decides to attempt the capture of their leader. Accompanied by Jonah, he sneaks into the Indians' secret meeting place while they are conducting one of their mysterious rites, but he is discovered and taken prisoner.
Jonah escapes and races back to tell Mike and Larry. When Larry insists upon going to Chip's rescue, Mike makes him sign a reenlistment paper "just to make his help official" and promises to destroy the paper after the mission.
Mike, Larry, and Jonah make their way to the Indian stronghold, but they too end up as prisoners. As the Cavalry rides into a trap where a thousand warriors are waiting to ambush them, Jonah blows the regiment's favorite tune on his trumpet as a warning. The ensuing battle ends in victory for the Cavalry; the three sergeants are decorated, and Jonah is made a trooper.
Thinking himself discharged, Larry drives off in a buggy with Amelia, but the crafty Mike shows the post's commanding officer the reenlistment paper he had promised to destroy. Larry, it appears, will be forced to serve another hitch with Mike and Chip.
- Frank Sinatra as First Sergeant Mike Merry
- Dean Martin as Sergeant Chip Deal
- Sammy Davis Jr. as Jonah Williams
- Peter Lawford as Sergeant Larry Barrett
- Joey Bishop as Sergeant-Major Roger Boswell
- Henry Silva as Mountain Hawk
- Ruta Lee as Amelia Parent
- Buddy Lester as Willie Sharpknife
- Phillip Crosby as Cpl. Ellis
- Dennis Crosby as Pvt. Page
- Lindsay Crosby as Pvt. Wills
- Hank Henry as Blacksmith
- Dick Simmons as Col. William Collingwood (billed as Richard Simmons)
- Michael Pate as Watanka
- Armand Alzamora as Caleb
- Richard Hale as White Eagle
- Rodd Redwing as Irregular
Directed by John Sturges, written by W. R. Burnett, and produced by Frank Sinatra, the movie features Sinatra in the Victor McLaglen role, Martin in the Cary Grant part, Lawford replacing Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Davis in Sam Jaffe's originally titular supporting part. Parts of the film weren shot in Johnson Canyon, Paria, Kanab movie fort and Bryce Canyon in Utah. Filming also took place in House Rock Valley, Arizona. The Thugee cult is replaced by the Ghost dancers with Michael Pate and Henry Silva appearing as Indians. Burnett was also credited as writing a novelisation of the film.
Sinatra wanted to use the title Soldiers Three but couldn't get the rights as the title was owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for another Gunga Din-inspired story set in India. Soldiers Three was a 1951 film, based on Rudyard Kipling's story, that starred David Niven, Walter Pidgeon and Stewart Granger.
Each of the Rat Pack's films contained a numeral in its title. The others were: Ocean's 11 (1960), Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964, with Joey Bishop absent and Bing Crosby replacing Peter Lawford), and 4 for Texas with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Anita Ekberg and Ursula Andress as the four in the title, Charles Bronson as a villain, and the Three Stooges as additional comedy relief. Sinatra said of these Rat Pack films: "Of course they're not great movies, no one could claim that... but every movie I've made through my own company has made money."
"The Lost Sinatra Film"
Seldom seen after its initial run in cinemas, never granted a release on home video, it seemed as though only a major event could bring Sergeants 3 to DVD. A DVD was finally released on May 13, 2008, both as a single disc and as part of a new Rat Pack box set, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Frank Sinatra's death.
The film later became available on the single DVD containing three films that accompanied the (European) Spanish weekly newsmagazine "El Tiempo" that had a ca. March 15, 2013 date [English sound + none, English or Spanish sub-titles]. Some Spanish street news kiosks retain older versions of that magazine with the DVD for several months after the initial sale (at the original price). (The other two films on the DVD were the Sinatra/Martin 4 for Texas and a Telly Savalas western.)
As of 2015, Sergeants 3 is now readily available on DVD.
Sergeants 3 was met with middling reviews on release. Variety labeled it as "warmed-over Gunga Din in a westernized version of that epic, with American-style Indians and Vegas-style soldiers of fortune. The essential differences between the two pictures, other than the obvious one of setting, is that the emphasis in Gunga was serious with a tongue-in-cheek overtone, whereas the emphasis in Sergeants is tongue-in-cheek with serious overtones."
- Glenn Lovell, Escape Artist: The Life and Films of John Sturges, University of Wisconsin Press, 2008 p178
- D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: a history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874.