Sergeants 3 is a 1962 American comedy/Western film directed by John Sturges and featuring Rat Pack icons Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop.
The film is a remake of Gunga Din (1939), with the setting moved from India to the American West.
Also known as Badlands (original script title, US). Refer to Soldiers Three (1951).
Mike, Chip and Larry are three lusty, brawling US 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 friends befriend a trumpet-playing former slave, Jonah Williams, who dreams of someday becoming a trooper. A tribe of fanatical Indians begins terrorising 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 favourite 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 that he had promised to destroy. It appears that Larry 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 Corporal Ellis.
- Dennis Crosby as Private Page.
- Lindsay Crosby as Private Wills.
- Hank Henry as Blacksmith.
- Dick Simmons as Colonel 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 film is a remake of Gunga Din with Sinatra in the Victor McLaglen role, Martin in the Cary Grant part, Lawford replacing Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Davis in Sam Jaffe’s role. Parts of the film were shot in Johnson Canyon, Paria, Kanab 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 with writing a novelisation of the film.
Sinatra wanted to use the title Soldiers Three but could not get the rights, as the title was owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for another Gunga Din-inspired story set in India, Soldiers Three, a 1951 film based on Rudyard Kipling’s story that starred David Niven, Walter Pidgeon and Stewart Granger.
John Wayne lent Sammy Davis Jr. the hat he wore in Legend of the Lost and Rio Bravo to wear in the film.
“The Lost Sinatra Film”
The film had seldom been seen after its initial run in cinemas until a DVD was released on 13 May 2008, both as a single disc and as part of a new Rat Pack box set, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Sinatra’s death.
- It was the last film to feature all five members of the Rat Pack, as Sinatra would no longer speak to or work with Lawford following the abrupt cancellation in March 1962 of a visit by Lawford’s brother-in-law, President John F. Kennedy, to Sinatra’s Palm Springs house.
Production & Filming Details
- John Sturges.
- Howard W. Koch … executive producer.
- Dean Martin … executive producer (uncredited).
- Frank Sinatra … producer.
- W.R. Burnett … (written by).
- Rudyard Kipling … (poem) (uncredited).
- Billy May.
- Winton C. Hoch … director of photography.
- Ferris Webster.
- Essex Productions.
- Meadway-Claude Productions Company.
- United Artists (1962) (USA) (theatrical).
- Nova Film (1962) (Netherlands) (theatrical).
- United Artists (1962) (Japan) (theatrical).
- United Artists (1962) (West Germany) (theatrical).
- United Artists (1962) (UK) (theatrical).
- United Artists (1962) (Sweden) (theatrical).
- Kommunenes Filmcentral (KF) (1962) (Norway) (theatrical).
- National Broadcasting Company (NBC) (1969) (USA) (TV) (pan/scan).
- Nova Film (1971) (Netherlands) (theatrical) (re-release).
- Dear Film (1962) (Italy) (theatrical).
- Rank Filmes de Portugal (1962) (Portugal) (theatrical).
- MGM Home Entertainment (2008) (USA) (DVD).
- Release Date: 10 February 1962 (US).
- Rating: U.
- Running Time: 112 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.