“You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.”
– Sammy Davis Jr.
– I Gotta be Me – Sammy Davis Jr.
I’m sure a few people were surprised to see Sammy Davis Jr. listed as one of the Actors that Sam Peckinpah had considered for the role of Dutch Engstrom in The Wild Bunch, which was eventually played by Ernest Borgnine.
But I’ll tell you something – I bet Sammy would have done a great job.
Firstly Sammy Davis Jr. was one of the greatest Entertainers who ever lived. He could do anything:
Stage and Screen, Stand up, Impressionist, Dance, Sing, Recording Artist, played several musical instruments … ???
Immensely talented – the consummate performer.
Also like many American kids of his era, it appears that Sammy loved Westerns – that probably dreamed of being Cowboy like many of us did.
I have plenty of evidence to support my claim:
Sammy’s Gunhandling / Twirling talents were legendary in Hollywood and he showcased them often.
Ratpack Cowboys / Sargeants 3 (1962)
The Rifleman: Season 4, Episode 21 Two Ounces of Tin (19 Feb. 1962)
Casting Call Part 2 / Dutch Engstrom / Ernest Borgnine
The Wild Bunch 1973
Wikipedia says: “Among those considered to play Dutch Engstrom wereCharles Bronson, Jim Brown, Alex Cord, Robert Culp, Sammy Davis, Jr., Richard Jaeckel, Steve McQueen, and George Peppard. Ernest Borgnine was cast based on his performance in The Dirty Dozen(1967).
Who would you have Cast?:
Charles Bronson Western Filmography 1954 Vera Cruz / 1954Drum Beat 1954 Apache / 1954Riding Shotgun 1956 Jubal / 1957Run of the Arrow 1957 Showdown at Boot Hill / 1960The Magnificent Seven 1961A Thunder of Drums1968Villa Rides 1968Once Upon a Time in the West / 1968 Guns for San Sebastian
Jim Brown Western Filmography
1964 Rio Conchos
1969 100 Rifles
1970 El Condor
1975 Take a Hard Ride
Alex Cord Western Filmography 2009Fire from Below 1977Grayeagle 1972 Gunsmoke (TV Series) 1966 Stagecoach 1995 Walker, Texas Ranger (TV Series) 1995 Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (TV Series) 1965 Branded (TV Series) 1961 Laramie (TV Series)
Robert Culp Western Filmography 1963The Raiders / 1971 Hannie Cauldur
Robert CulpTV Westerns Trackdown (1957–1959) Tate(1960) / Johnny Ringo(1960) Outlaws (1960) /The Westerner(1960) Zane Grey Theater (1957-1960) Rawhide(1961) / Bonanza (1961)
Rifleman (1960-1962) / Wagon Train (1962)
The Virginian (1964) Gunsmoke (1964)
The Hanged Man (1964) Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993) Lonesome Dove: The Series (1994)
Sammy Davis, Jr. Western Filmography
Zane Grey Theater (TV Series) /Lawman(TV Series) Sergeants 3(1962) /The Rifleman(TV Series) The Wild Wild West(TV Series) /The Trackers (1971) Gone with the West (1975)
Richard Jaeckel Western Filmography
The Gunfighter(1950) / Apache Ambush (1955) 3:10 to Yuma(1957) / Cowboy (1958) Cimarron City(TV) (1958) / The Texan(TV) 1959 Trackdown (TV) 1959 / Zane Grey Theater (TV)(1960) Tales of Wells Fargo (TV) (1960) / The Rebel (TV) (1960) Flaming Star(1960) / The Tall Man(TV) (1961) Lawman (TV) (1961) / Frontier Circus (1961–1962) Have Gun – Will Travel (TV) (1962) / Wagon Train (TV) (1961–1963) The Dakotas (TV) (1963) / 4 for Texas (1963) The Virginian (TV) (1964) / Town Tamer (1965) The Wild Wild West (1966–1967) / Bonanza (1964–1967) Chisum (1970) / Ulzana’s Raid (1972) Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973) / Gunsmoke (TV) (1963–1975) The Last Day (1975) /The Oregon Trail (1977) Kit Carson and the Mountain Men (1977) Go West, Young Girl (1978)
Steve McQueen Western Filmography Trackdown (TV) 1958 / Tales of Wells Fargo (TV) 1958 The Magnificent Seven (1960) Wanted: Dead or Alive (TV) 1958-1961 Nevada Smith (1966) / Junior Bonner (1972) Tom Horn (1980)
George Peppard Western Filmography How the West Was Won 1962 / Rough Night in Jericho1967 Cannon for Cordoba 1970 / The Bravos 1972
Another decent group of candidates.
From among this Bunch I think a popular vote would likely see Bronson and McQueen win out.
But I can’t guess who would win between them?
Bronson had appeared in a couple of movies before with Borgnine,
including Vera Cruz (1954) – if that means anything?
Next let’s have a look at Warren Oates’ role of Lyle Gorch …