Originally conceived as a vehicle for Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and John Belushi, this enjoyably indulgent comedy hit the big screen with another Saturday Night Live regular, Martin Short, in place of Belushi, who died in 1982.
The leads play three silent movie stars – Dusty Bottoms (Chase), Lucky Day (Martin) and Ned Nederlander (Short) – who have made their fame and fortune as the stars of a series of Western films featuring The Three Amigos.
When the studio fires them for asking for more money for their next picture they end up in Mexico on what they think is a publicity tour – only to discover that they are expected to defend the village of Santa Poco from an evil group of bandits under the leadership of El Guapo (Alfonso Arau).
Needless to say, the three are – in real life – dandified milquetoasts straight out of Bob Hope-dom. At their first encounter, the beaming El Guapo tells his men: “I like these guys. Only kill one of them”.
It’s nowhere near as funny as it should have been given the talent on show, but the chemistry between the stars and the gentle digs at the western genre make for a diverting enough entertainment.
“Would you say that I had a plethora of piñatas?”