Interesting Ty Hardin Euro-western dealing with racial issues
As a pre-1966 Italian western, this film does not have many of the "trademarks" of the spaghetti western--there's no heavily echoed Duane Eddy-style guitar on the soundtrack, no extreme close-ups, no focus on desolate landscapes, no nihilistic feel. A young lady is attacked by three Indians (who look like Italian hippies!), but she manages to escape and is found wandering in the wildnerness by Ty Hardin, who nurses her back to health and proposes to take her to El Paso to a mission where Hardin's daughter is staying and where the lady will be safe and cared for. After fifteen minutes, that seems to be the "plot" of CURSED VALLEY, but nothing is ever as simple as it seems, and new characters and new layers of complexity begin to emerge until we are enmeshed in a difficult situation among warring family members with the added problem of the original Indians still trying to track down the lady. As the film proceeds, it brings up a number of interesting issues including racially mixed marriages, which it deals with in a surprisingly complex and mature manner. Visually, the film is attractive (the circulating video is letterboxed) with a number of well-composed shots (the one where Torito, the lady's husband, watches through a window his wife leaving with Hardin I still remember). Director Primo Zeglio (here using the Omar Hopkins pseudonym) also directed such interesting films as SON OF THE RED CORSAIR with Lex Barker (see my review), MORGAN THE PIRATE with Steve Reeves, the US-TV staple SEVEN SEAS TO CALAIS with Rod Taylor, and the space opera MISSION STARDUST with Lang Jeffries as sci-fi pulp hero Perry Rhodan. At this point in his career,Ty Hardin was only a few years away from his starring role as Bronco Layne in the BRONCO TV series (which still holds up well today), and had recently appeared in such hits as PT 109 and BATTLE OF THE BULGE. CURSED VALLEY seems to be his first European credit--he went on to make many films overseas. Unfortunately, Hardin does not dub his own voice here, so his performance is not as effective as it could have been, though it works well enough anyway (and Hardin's female fans should note that he appears without his shirt in a number of scenes in the first half hour). Overall, this is an interesting western, though not a typical Italian western. The musical score is quite rousing, often sounding like music from some 50s television western or a Republic western. Except for an acoustic guitar sequence, it does not have a spaghetti western feel at all. I consider this an above average western and would recommend it to any Eurowestern, western, or Ty Hardin fans.
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