1963...Sergio Leone had done 1 film as credited director..."Colossus of Rhodes"..; Clint Eastwood was still best known as "Rowdy Yates" on "Rawhide". Duello Nel Texas was released in Italy in Sept. 1963...Filmed in Northern Spain....using the set that would later be used as the town in FOD & FAFDM. Ricardo Blasco ..directed 8 other films..a couple of Zorro movies...most of his work was as Second Unit Director or Assistant Director. Massimo Dallamano, the cinematographer, went on to be director of photography on both Fistful Of Dollars and FAFDM.
Richard Harrison..had appeared in 1 previous "pre-spaghetti" Western..."El Sabor de la Venganza" (1963) (Gunfight at High Noon (USA) )....& went on to play Ringo in "$100,000 for Ringo"....Rocco in "Vengeance" (.Joko invoca Dio e muori).. & starred in "I'll Forgive You, Before I Kill You" .... .."Aquasanta Joe" & others. Gunfight at Red Sands is also noteworthy for being the first Italian Western to feature a Ennio Morricone score...& if my instincts are correct......a collaboration w/ Bruno Nicolai.
Harrison is Ricardo..a/k/a "Gringo"......who returns from an unsuccessful campaign fighting w/ guerillas in Mexico...& now just wants peace.......to discover that his adoptive father has been killed & the family's gold stolen. So he's gotta..avenge his father..& get the gold back.
This is Harrison without the stubble..not quite the antihero...an avenger...but not "The Stranger"...although he has been away for 4 years.
As for Ennio Morricone's first Western score.....parts of it are quite nice...others are just...OK...Hollywood-style stuff, as requested by the film's producers. ..Of course, early Morricone is very interesting...the title song (A Gringo Like Me) is a different version than the one that's become somewhat familiar...an earlier version w/ a different vocalist. He is also credited as musical director under the name of "Leo Nichols"...which for me is too close to Bruno Nicolai..that I suspect that to be a mistake..& Nicolai to be the true musical director.
The Italian Western was still very much an American Western imitation..but we see the SWlike quirk here & there..a lot of "roots" of what was to come in many films....the weird villain type (giggling..twitching guy)............& there's gold..Mexican revolutionaries...a corrupt sheriff who hates Mexicans....more than a few killings..a couple of not very well done fistfights..a final showdown that's OK.......minor red herrings & misdirection..pretty straightforward. Good bit early..the shootout w/ the Federales...although it does come off as too theatrical. Check out the scene early on when a jeep drives by in the background. Rest of the cast ranges from pretty awful to pretty good... nice turn by Sara Lezana as Lisa..who gets to show off some action chops that a year later became traditionally not done by women in SW.
Gunfight At Red Sands is really a PRE-Spaghetti Western....in tone... & spirit....dramatically & musically. It has more in common with the Hollywood knockoffs produced in Italy pre '64...but SW devotees will definitely notice & appreciate the elements of future films that are there...
The style hadn't arrived yet......nor the twinkle in the eye..but something quite unique and wonderful was just about to be born.
Spaghetti Western? Maybe an Antipasto Western.
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