To say that my viewings of western is poor is an understatement. Except from obligatory three Winnetou movies (OK, four, counting also the Treasure of Silver Lake), which were a staple diet of almost all kids back in the commie Czechoslovakia (interestingly, all those available were dubbed into Czech, but only those 4 were showed in cinemas in 1980s. I remember I’ve seen Winnetou (the first one) and The Desperado Trail (also known as the Last Shot), but the second, Last of the Renegades (also known as The Red Gentleman) has eluded me for years before I’d finally seen it.
And then are the essential spaghetti I’ve managed to see – the Dollars trilogy. And if I don’t take The Magnificent Seven into the consideration (and also Hombre, which I barely remember, seeing it only once as a kid), that is all my western experience. Shame on me!
But reading about the cinematic adventures of Italian filmmakers, one can’t escape the urge to check their western all’Italiana a.k.a spaghetti westerns – and while talking about Italian cinema, I feel the same about peplum movies, but I’ve seen just a few (but I hope to share with you my discoveries of the genre as well).
I’ve got this less-known late spaghetti western on a bootleg DVD (unfortunately, besides the German language release there is no official English-friendly release of this movie, so there you go), and checking the IMDB score of 4.5, I didn’t really have a clue what to expect.
The story couldn’t be simplier. Young man is gunned down on his way to see her sister before her wedding. She is engaged to some guy, who is after her land (because it has gold on it), so he doesn’t hesitate to pull any dirty tricks necessary, but himself he’s just a henchmen to a Mexican evil female with a bullwhip. But fortunately, there is one hero, teaming with damsel’s black servant friend Tom (Ray Saunders), who are determined to make sure villains won’t get it their way.
As I’ve said – it couldn’t be simplier. But for some strange reason I’ve had a nice time watching it, despite some things which really let the movie down. First – the person of the stuttering sherrif (played by the director Carlo Croccolo himself) was obviously meant to be funny addition to the story, but it was just boring and totally useless. Butterfly studying scientist from Winnetou – The Last of the Renegades was more in place and more funny that Croccolo’s character. Thankfully, he’s not in the movie the whole time and the auction scene was actually funny, so I forgive him 🙂
Second thing to notice is the absolutely terrible aiming of the bad guys. It seems to me they are not able to shoot and hit our hero (in the English dubbed version I’ve seen he was named Sartana, played by Tony Kendall, originally Luciano Stella) from 2 meters, but that’s nothing unusual in movies. But the recklessness of the main hero is quite unbelievable. Instead of just killing the Mexican guy who (with others) came to kill our duo, he’s just knocked him down (and next to his pistol). Well, shit happens, but I guess Sartana is not that quick with his gun as he should have been.
Monica Miguel as the main (Mexican) villain is interesting, in her fitting black clothing and sombrero all with the golden embroidery. She is also nice to the eyes of the watchers and the scene where she uses her whip to undress poor Jessica is also very memorable.
Seasoned actor Mimmo Palmara (here billed as Dick Palmer) is the evil scheming fiancé Louis, but actually is Sartana’s treacherous ex-Confederate Army lieutenant, who betrayed his soldiers to the Union Army. No wonder our hero is after him.
Did we miss anyone? Of course, the second most important character, our beatiful damsel in distress, Jessica. Now that’s something interesting and although my expert source confirm the IMDB claim she was played by Marina Malfatti (under the pseudonym Marina Mulligan), others claim (and I guess they have quite a claim here) it was then wife of the director Croccolo, Marissa Croccolo (neé Marissa Rabissi).
Summed up, my first serious foray into the world of spaghetti westerns was a success! To be honest, I could pick far worse movies for my Sunday watching – but for whatever shortcoming this movie has, the nice, vivid colours just remedy all the complaints I could have. So, happy movie watcher here. What about you, amigo?