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This is one of the better Spaghetti Westerns I've watched but whose
reputation despite the popularity of the title character seems to
me to be relatively underrated (and the film itself criminally
unavailable in an affordable DVD edition; the same thing goes for its
follow-up, THE RETURN OF RINGO ).
While pretty straightforward in comparison to later efforts in the genre (often politically-motivated and thus heavy-going), just because it's unpretentious the film emerges as more readily enjoyable than most of its type benefiting from the presence of Giuliano Gemma (certainly one of the more likable Italian stars in spite of a somewhat limited range), a typically fine score by Ennio Morricone, but also the unusual time-frame of the plot (it's set largely inside a hacienda under siege over the Christmas period!). Besides, there are agreeable (though not over-emphasized) touches of humor throughout to counter the exciting action sequences, some surprisingly good dialogue (director Tessari also wrote the script) and, equally unexpected for such an early Spaghetti Western, interesting characterizations. In fact, the milksop hero is an opportunist who's extremely resourceful at outwitting burly villain Fernando Sancho; the latter's woman played by Nieves Navarro, better known as Susan Scott, and the wife of the film's co-producer Luciano Ercoli is an elegant and seductive Mexican who wins the affections of the aristocratic owner of the remote mansion where the gang is holed in; while the old man's daughter, fiancée of the sheriff but who gradually falls for Gemma, is coveted by one of Sancho's lecherous cronies.
Most of the cast and crew were re-assembled soon after for THE RETURN OF RINGO which is superior to the original (mainly because the Homeric inspiration of that film's narrative adds some much-needed depth to the protagonist) but, starting off with Gemma coming home from the Civil War, is actually a prequel to it: his military duty is mentioned in passing in A PISTOL FOR RINGO, though not the fact that he had been married (the latter is possibly an added element to the second film so that Gemma could finally get together with leading lady Lorella Di Luca, billed as Hally Hammond).
"A Pistol for Ringo" is an above-average Spaghetti Western. The anti-hero (Gemma) and villain (Sancho) are both very charismatic, and each has a good sense of humor. The basic plot situation is interesting: Fleeing from a bank hold-up in which their leader was wounded, a gang of bandits takes refuge at a farm. Although the farm is surrounded, the posse cannot attack because of the hostages. The anti-hero is highly paid to infiltrate and destroy the gang, and recover the money. The film has some unusual twists; for example, the bandits are executing two hostages per day, even after the anti-hero joins the gang, and he makes no effort to halt the executions. There is an interesting contrast between the behavior of the anti-hero (Gemma) and the sheriff (Martin) who behaves like a traditional Western hero. The film has a nice music score by Ennio Morricone. But somehow, this film failed to fully satisfy this viewer. The heroine is dull and bland, too much of the film takes place at the farm, and the anti-hero kills the villain in an absurd manner. There are also some gaps of logic-why didn't the bandits lock the sheriff in his jail? In any event, the film was such a financial success that the seven principal actors were reunited in "The Return of Ringo" (a sequel in name only, since all characters were different). This review of "A Pistol for Ringo" is based on the (poorly) English-dubbed home video version, titled "Ballad of Death Valley." The video suffers greatly from lack of widescreen; for example, the first shootout has Ringo against four opponents at once, but all you can see on the TV screen is Ringo and one of the opponents, so you don't even know who drew first. If you want to see this film, try to see it in widescreen.
It is with this customary exchange that "A Pistol for Ringo" opens. Christmas is only two days away, but the towns-folks festive celebrations are about to come to an abrupt halt, when a band of mexicans, led by Sancho (played, quite aptly, by Fernando Sancho), take a ranch and its inhabitants hostage following a failed escape from a bank-robbery. The local sheriff, Ben, (played in true Hollywood style by Jorge Martin) has the ranch surrounded, but cannot attack for fear of the hostages being massacred. A particular concern in view of the fact that his love interest is amongst the hostages. Ringo (Gemma) is spending time in jail for the killing (albeit in "self defence") of a local gang. But when Sancho threatens to kill two hostages a day unless he and his gang are freed, the Sheriff has no option but to send in Ringo.
This is a really enjoyable movie, that sits somewhere in-between the dirt and grittiness of Leone and his Italian counterparts, and the classic American western. Even Morricone's soundtrack leans towards 50/60's Hollywood, with its crooned (and toe-tappingly catchy) theme tune.
The leading roles played by Gemma and Sancho are very convincing, and the dialogue is entertaining and full of classic quotes throughout: "God created men equal. It was the six gun that made them different". Ringo is far cleaner than Eastwood's Man With No Name (thus his name Angel Face), and cares not for alcohol, much preferring milk. But he shares the same ability and ruthlessness with a gun. Sancho meanwhile is gruff and merciless, revelling in carrying out his threat to kill one hostage at sunrise and one at sunset daily. Didn't anyone tell him it was the season of goodwill to all men????
Although not quite as strong as Director Tessari's follow up "Return of Ringo", this is one of the best of the early Spaghettis, and definitely a must view.
This is the original installment from Gemma-Tessari trilogy formed by
¨A pistol for Ringo¨, ¨The return of Ringo¨ and ¨Kiss, Kiss , Bang ,
Bang¨ , though the later is set in modern times and deal with a heist .
All of them are amusing and entertaining and starred by similar cast as
Gemma , Fernando Sancho , Lorella De Luca , Nieves Navarro and Antonio
Casas ; furthermore same artistic equipment . They are familiar films ,
in fact , the actress Lorella De Luca married director Duccio Tessari
and Nieves Navarro married the producer Luciano Ercoli . This is the
first part from Duccio Tessari trilogy, starred by an awesome Giuliano
Gemma . It's a tremendously exciting story of an ex-convict named Ringo
who had only one more killing to go . A band of Mexicans pull off a
bank-robbery in a little town . Ringo (Giuliano Gemma) is spending time
in prison for a case of "self defense" . Meanwhile , the gang of a
nasty Mexican named Sancho (Fernando Sancho) and his bandits (
Nazzareno Zamperla , Jose Luis Martin) trespass the little town and
occupy a mansion and take the ranch and its inhabitants as hostages
following the foiled getaway . The ranch is surrounded but when Sancho
threatens to murder two hostages a day unless he and his band are freed
, the local Sheriff ( Jorge Martin) who has his bride among the
hostages , gets no option but to send in Ringo. Ringo goes the ranch
and seeks vengeance against Sancho's hoodlums (Nazzareno Zamperla ,
Jose Luis Martin , Frank Oliveras ) who kill , mistreat countrymen and
attempt to rape a young ( Lorella De Luca) . Ringo comes to the ranch
just in time to make sure its inhabitants , taking place a cat and
mouse game , but later the events get worse .
This Western is superior than subsequent entries because it displays thrills , stirring adventures, shoot'em up , riding pursuits and is pretty amusing . There is plenty of action in the movie , guaranteeing some shots or stunts every few minutes . This is a good S.W. plenty of action , shootouts , fist-play and some touches of humor in charge of Giuliano Gemma character . Ringo is a type of selfish adventurer of the West , an elegant marksman and resourceful ¨Bon Vivant¨ who is stunningly played by Gemma . Giuliano is very fine, he ravages the screen, he jumps , bounds and leaps, hit and run ; plus jokes , laughs , he's a complete show . Fernado Sancho as a cruelly baddie role as Mexican bandit is terrific , subsequently the would play similar role in other Spaghetti . In the movie appears usual support actors as Spanish : Antonio Casas , Jose Luis Martin , Francisco Sanz as Italian players : Nazzareno Zamperla and Frank Oliveras . Special mention to Nieves Navarro or Susan Scott as attractive and rogue woman but she unfortunately would finish shooting erotic cinema . It's a co-production Spanish-Italian and of course shot on location in Almeria that is well photographed by Francisco Marin , though is necessary a fine remastering because the film-copy is washed-out . There are many fine technicians and nice assistant direction and excellent production design by the usual Juan Albert Soler , he creates a magnificent scenario on the interior ranch and barren outdoors , dirty landscapes under a glimmer sun and fine sets filmed in Almería, Andalucía, PC Alfonso Balcazar Studios, Barcelona and San Jose, Andalucia, Spain . As always , the musician Ennio Morricone, composes a nice Spaghetti soundtrack and well conducted and splendid leitmotif ; it's full of enjoyable sounds and emotive score .
This Italian writer / filmmaker Duccio Tessari so consistently mixed the good with the mediocre that it became quite impossible to know what to expect from him next . He wrote several Western as ¨A fistful of dollars ¨, ¨A train to Durango ¨Seven guns for McGregor¨ , ¨The return of McGregor¨ . He directed five Western with abundant touches of humor as ¨Vivi o preferibilment Morti¨, ¨Don't turn the other cheek¨ and ¨Zorro¨ with Alain Delon and of course ¨Ringo ¨and sequel , mostly starred with his fetish actor Giuliano Gemma . Rating : 6 , acceptable and passable movie that will appeal to Spaghetti Western buffs .
1965: the year when Italian westerns were busily developing a style of
their own after the success of "A Fistful of Dollars" - while the
influence of the American classics was still visible. "A Gun For Ringo"
is a good example for this search of new ways. On one hand, we have a
cynical hero seemingly only motivated by money: after a bank robbery,
Ringo only agrees to help and free the hostages after his demand of a
30 per cent share of the stolen money is accepted, and he's not ashamed
to ask the bandits whether they would offer more? On the other hand, we
see a sheriff (George Martin) in love with one of the hostages (Lorella
de Luca) and a land owner who keeps up the traditional values of
hospitality, courtesy and honor even under the most difficult
circumstances, recalling the 1950s.
"A Gun For Ringo" is a lively movie created in the middle of a small revolution, the beginning of a successful European western wave, and the makers seem to have had a feeling "we've got our hands on something here!", a certain excitement that hasn't faded away. Great fun to watch, and both the youthful Giuliano Gemma (Ringo) and the charismatic Fernando Sancho (Sancho, leader of the bandits) went on to play similar roles in many movies of the following years.
This euro-western takes place during the Christmas holiday season.
While not really a Christmas-themed movie per se, the backdrop for the
film is laden with people acknowledging and celebrating the holiday,
complete with decorations and a Christmas tree, which makes this the
closest thing to a Christmas western that I've seen. As such, for the
spaghetti western fan, it is a welcome seasonal alternative to watching
"It's a Wonderful Life," or the latest Moron Clause movie on your local
big screen or cable movie channel.
Giuliano Gemma does a fine job, as usual, portraying the protagonist of the film, and Fernando Sancho is even better as "Sancho," the Mexican bandit. Nieves Navarro is breathtaking as "Dolores," the female bandit who becomes romantically involved with one of her hostages.
The production is above-average for a euro-western, and the film has an engaging storyline with lots of action and suspense. Add to that a great music score by Ennio Morricone, and you definitely have a winning combination that spaghetti fans will be sure to enjoy.
This story was written and directed by Duccio Tessari and tries it's level best to find closure in and among the Italian Westerns made more popular by Clint Easewood. Although it's interesting, it falls short. Still it holds it's own as B-Type and has some merit there. The story as one follows it, has a Gun-Man called 'Angel-Eyes' and is better known as Ringo (Montgomery Wood) for the film " A Pistol for Ringo " Following a shoot-out with some killers who have come gunning for him, Ringo ends up in jail, at the same time, a gang of Mexican Outlaws rob the bank and kill a few of the citizens and take refuse in a Fortress hacienda. The sheriff has to make a deal with Ringo in order to save some hostages and recover the loot. Infiltrating the gang led by a Bandit name Fernando Sancho, (Sancho) From the beginning the movie is a tests of skills between the bad guys and Ringo. Some gun play, some physical confrontation, some Comic situations, laughter and small drama, but none of which is sustained. All in all a good movie for the audience, if they don't expect too much. Entertaining for a B-Picture. ***
This spaghetti western was apparently a big hit when it was released, enough to get a sequel ("The Return of Ringo") made. Watching it, I couldn't help but wonder why audiences flocked to it. Don't get me wrong, I usually like spaghetti westerns, but I found this particular one to be largely boring. Most of the movie takes place in one location, and there is a lot of scheming but very little advance in the plot. When there is gunplay, it often comes across as kind of disturbing, with little regard for life by those who fire their guns (even the hero is guilty of this on more than one occasion.) And the Ennio Morricone score is far from his best. Fernando Sancho does well as the villain, the production values are acceptable, and the climatic action sequence does have some excitement, so the movie is not without merit. But even with this stuff, this is one drab western.
This Italian Western - which just so happens to be set at Christmastime
- made a star out of the charismatic former stuntman Giuliano Gemma.
Using his Anglicized pseudonym Montgomery Wood, he stars as title
character Ringo, an amiable outlaw. Ringo is in jail for murder (which
he says was done in self defense) when the town bank is robbed of a
substantial amount by bandits. They hole up in a remote community, and
take hostages. The law enforcement types come up with the idea to have
Ringo infiltrate the criminal gang, which he does in his own inimitable
"A Pistol for Ringo" is a solid and engaging example of the Spaghetti Western. It may not be as well known, or well regarded, as the most famous films in the genre, but it offers ample entertainment. A large part of the appeal is Gemma himself. Handsome, charming, and sly, he does a fine job at portraying a man who doesn't seem to have any real loyalty to anything other than money. He actually offers his services to the bandits if they will promise him a larger percentage of the take than the law. We're never quite sure what to make of him, but we do know that he's fun to watch.
The exceptional composer Ennio Morricone, who's done hundreds (!) of scores during his life and career, gives this film a typically atmospheric soundtrack. The widescreen photography is first rate, and Gemma has a fine supporting cast to work with. The prolific, corpulent, robust character actor Fernando Sancho has a field day as bandit leader Sancho. Lorella De Luca as Miss Ruby and Nieves Navarro as Dolores are simply beautiful. Antonio Casas is excellent as the hospitable Major Clyde, as is George Martin as Sheriff Ben, who is in love with Ruby (you can't blame the guy).
Exciting action scenes and a healthy dose of humour also make this quite pleasing to watch.
Seven out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After killing four men in self defence, gunslinger Ringo(GIULIANO
GEMMA),also known as "Angel face" is arrested by the town
sheriff(GEORGE MARTIN).Shortly after Ringo has been locked up in the
town jail, a massive bandit gang led by Sancho(FERNANDO SANCHO)crosses
the Rio Grande and arrive in the town, where they proceed to hold up
the bank. The bandits subsequently flee in the chaos of a shootout and
are pursued by the sheriff and his posse. Sancho and his men take
refuge at a Hacienda owned by Major Clyde(ANTONIO CASAS)and his
daughter Ruby(LORELLA DE LUCA)who is the Sheriff's fiancée. The outlaws
lay siege to the property and take everyone inside hostage. The sheriff
releases Ringo, who goes to the Hacienda and infiltrates Sancho's gang
in the hope of freeing the hostages and recovering the stolen money. He
gains Sancho's trust whilst the sheriff plans to attack the Hacienda
after the hostages safety has been secured. Can Ringo successfully free
the hostages without having his cover blown...?
After the release of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS(only 8 months prior to the release of this film),the Spaghetti western was firing on all cylinders. A PISTOL FOR RINGO is an excellent sign of things to come regarding the Spaghetti western. The film is just a joy to watch and this is down to several factors. It is fantastically scripted with strong characters and robust performances. The script provides Ringo and Sancho with sharp dialogue and cracking one liners which are scattered throughout the film. These one liners inject humour into the film and create fantastic chemistry between the hero and the villain, which is rarely seen in a Spaghetti western. The sharp dialogue meant the two leads could portray their characters vigorously and with aplomb.This,as well as the script is why I enjoyed the film so much. I found myself smiling and occasionally laughing throughout most of it's duration. The film was quite fast paced and I was impressed with the snappy editing which sped things up. Ringo is an immensely likable character, even though he's not the rugged,sadistic,stereotypical Spaghetti western brute, he is one of my favourite western action heroes. He's charming, witty and cool and is up there with granite edged characters played by Randolph Scott, James Stewart and John Wayne in the American westerns .Giuliano Gemma acquits himself magnificently in the role, he's definitely full of the get-up-and-go which is showcased in awesome fashion, particularly in the final shootout. Fernando Sancho is rather hilarious as the cruel bandit leader, although he still brings an air of ruthlessness to the film. There's one particular scene in which he is shaving and he brutally guns down a male and female hostage by aiming his pistol over his shoulder and looking at their reflection in his mirror. The well crafted dialogue and brilliant one liners are shared between himself and Gemma. George Martin also turned in a great performance as the sheriff and Lorella De Luca was quite a beautiful distraction.
The action scenes were utterly gripping and of quite a spectacular nature. The first shootout after the bandits rob the rob the bank set the tone for the other shootouts. These shootouts were also superb and included typical Spaghetti western deaths like guys flinging their arms in the air as they get shot and falling from rooftops. I also found some of these deaths rather funny,there's one where a guy opens the blinds and yawns, only to be shot in the head. The bruising fistfight between Ringo and one of the bandits was stupendously shot and choreographed. The frenzied final shootout between Ringo and Sancho was energetic and featured more terrific set pieces. I could really feel the tension as the two men shoot it out. The atmosphere could only be described as taut. Sancho's death is brilliantly overacted. The main title song "Angel face" by Maurizio Graf was exceptional and is one of my favourite Spaghetti western songs.
Masterfully directed by Duccio Tessari, A PISTOL FOR RINGO is escapism at it's greatest. This film, and many other Spaghetti westerns like it helped lay the foundations for what I believe to be the best sub-genre in the history of cinema. With a satisfying script,appealing characters and staunch performances from the two leads as well as rollicking action sequences, this one is a winner. I only hope Tessari can live up to expectations with the sequel, THE RETURN OF RINGO.10/10.
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