Originally born Dino Paul Crocetti, Dean Martin was known as the “King of Cool.” The classy crooner had a similar style to the great Bing Crosby and was a legendary member of the Rat Pack along with Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, and Sammy Davis, Jr. The Steubenville, Ohio native was also one of the most popular acts in Las Vegas, known for his iconic songs like “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?,” “Everybody Loves Somebody,” and “That’s Amore.”
Known for getting his big start as a comedian with Jerry Lewis, Martin went on to get this own variety show on NBC, The Dean Martin Show. But he also was known for appearing in countless films like Bells Are Ringing, multiple Matt Helm superspy comedies, Kiss Me Stupid, Some Came Running, The Young Lions, How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life, Ada, My Friend Irma, Robin and the 7 Hoods, Mr. Ricco, Scared Stiff, Ten Thousand Bedrooms, Ocean’s 11, and more.
But a major part of Martin’s Hollywood career was starring in Western films alongside some of the greats from John Wayne to Jimmy Stewart. Here are the most notable westerns of Martin’s career.
1. Rio Bravo
This classic western directed by Howard Hawks stars Martin alongside John Wayne and Ricky Nelson. Wayne plays a small-town sheriff who arrests a local rancher for murder and must keep him locked up until the marshal arrives. Chaos ensues when he must fight off the rancher’s gang members. The film is widely considered one of the best westerns out there…we also get to see Martin give some comedic relief by showing off his singing chops.
2. Sergeants 3
Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Peter Lawford are members of the U.S. Cavalary assigned to the Indian Territory with their fellow Rat Pack icon, Sammy Davis Jr., playing a former slave who dreams of joining the calvary. The film, directed by John Sturges (known for The Magnificent Seven) is as full of action and excitement as you’d expect.
3. 4 for Texas
This quirky western comedy follows two rival couples who must put aside their differences and come together in order to save their waterfront casino from outlaws. Frank Sinatra co-stars and The Three Stooges even make an appearance.
4. The Sons of Katie Elder
Martin and Wayne reunite in this popular western to play brothers, coming together for the funeral of their late mother. After discovering clues that point to uncovering the mystery of their father’s death, they seek revenge along with their other two brothers.
5. Rough Night in Jericho
In an interesting twist, Martin plays the villain in this film, a lawman who turned his back on the law and has taken over the small town of Jericho in the Wild West. Based on the novel The Man in Black, this is actually the only film from Martin’s lengthy career where he plays the bad guy.
6. Texas Across the River
Martin plays Sam Hollis, who along with his Native American sidekick, Kronk (Joey Bishop), ends up in a duel with a Spanish nobleman, for the love of a beautiful southern belle.
7. Five Card Stud
Henry Hathaway’s murder mystery western is incredibly memorable with Martin starring as Van Morgan, a man who tries to stop members of a poker game from murdering some of the other players. The film was written by Marguerite Roberts the year before she wrote True Grit.
Martin and James Stewart play brothers who leave town with a hostage in tow (Raquel Welch). She ends up becoming the love interest of Martin’s character, Dee, but the grouchy sheriff who had his sights on the lovely widow first is on their tail.
Martin and Lewis come together in one of their last films before the comedic duo formally broke up after years of classic films together like Artists and Models (with Shirley MacLaine). In this comedic film set in the old west, the two men play partners, seeking revenge on their father’s murders over the K Ranch years prior.