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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 review may contain spoilers ***
One of the very first hit Spaghetti Westerns, directed by a co-scripter
of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. The very likable and attractive Giuliano Gemma
stars as Ringo ("Angel Face", as he is nicknamed), a milk-drinking
pretty-boy that also happens to be a ruthless mercenary.
Gemma is sprung from prison to help the sheriff capture a band of bandits holed up, with hostages, at a nearby ranch. Much time is spent on the setup and planning of various raids by each side, and on the drama between two women (one hostage, one bandit) and the men that fancy them. Ringo eventually connives and conspires his way through the story and eventually produces the desired result, netting himself a nice payday in the process.
I liked the great contradiction of the Ringo character: so nice and handsome, polite, well-dressed... yet also a deadly pistol shot, a wisecracking sarcastic SOB, a cutthroat negotiator. Gemma is gifted at bringing the laconic, edgy charm this character needs to come alive. He is great at acting with his body, whether in dramatic scenes that show his cockiness, or the slam-bang stunts that require his full athleticism.
As for Sancho, the head bandit, played by Fernando Sancho, I don't get it. Sancho (the actor) is renowned for his great charisma and charm as a thug in dozens of Western features, but he has never won me over. Yes, he is usually poorly dubbed in a cartoonish voice, he can't help that; it's his wildly flailing reactions to every punch, every gunshot... he strikes me as a big, floppy, rowdy buffoon that is incapable of any dramatic subtlety. Sancho (the character) here shows himself to be undisciplined, hot-tempered, dumb, not at all like the ringleader of a successful gang. A poor performance by (in my opinion) a poor actor.
The picture features fine widescreen photography, and also a nice score (with dramatic stings at appropriate moments) by the great Ennio Morricone. The color schemes of the sets and costumes are, however, a little gaudy and stagy, not the usually grime-and-grease look one associates from this genre; it makes the film feel a little more "Hollywood" than other Italo-westerns.
This is, overall, a good early-cycle Spaghetti. A little slow and stagy, maybe, but enjoyable. Gemma's performance is the best thing about the pic. 6/10 stars.
When smarty-pants bandito Fernando Sancho and his gang rob a bank and
begin executing hostages while conducting a standoff at a near-bye
ranch, local authorities send in ultra-slick (and equally glib)
gunfighter Giuliano Gemma to infiltrate the ranch and hopefully rescue
Sancho is a hoot and Gemma oozes charm in this light-hearted, action-filled, and fast-paced flick that spawned a slew of bogus "sequels" and catapulted the name Ringo to icon status, like fellow one-name spaghetti stars Djang, Sartana, and Trinity.
Although not quite a masterpiece, A Pistol For Ringo is an awful lot of fun, with a memorable score by Ennio Morricone, making it worthwhile viewing for fans of European westerns.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The leader of a band of Mexican outlaws is wounded as the group makes
its getaway after a bank robbery. The bandits decide to hold-up at a
nearby ranch. The outlaw leader, Sancho (Fernando Sancho), threatens to
kill two hostages per day unless he and his gang are allowed passage to
Mexico. The local sheriff feels hamstrung as he fears for the life of
his girl, one of the hostages, if he makes a move against the bandits.
Reluctantly, he turns to a prisoner he's holding, Ringo (Giuliano
Gemma), for help. The plan have Ringo, an outlaw himself, infiltrate
the group and work from the inside to free the prisoners.
A Pistol for Ringo is an interesting and entertaining early Spaghetti Western. It's interesting to me because I look at it as something of a bridge between the traditional Hollywood Westerns and the Euro-Westerns just getting cranked-up in 1965. It's a mix of old and new. Old costumes, the unrealistic portrayal of violence (no blood), and the lack of dirt (it always bugs me that no one in old Westerns ever gets dirty). New the anti-hero, bandits like Sancho, the body count, and crazy plot points and twists. It's really cool to see these different elements blended into one movie like A Pistol for Ringo. As for entertaining, well it's just fun. Lighter feeling than some of the other early Spaghetti Westerns, A Pistol for Ringo has something of a playful tone to it despite the violence. The script is well written and includes many interesting pieces of dialogue the bit about what makes men different in Texas being one of my favorites. The script also includes a well written, but heart wrenching, twist near the end that I really didn't see coming. It completely caught me off-guard. Director Duccio Tessari keeps things moving at a nice pace with lots of action, gun fights, and interesting set-pieces throughout. The acting is a real highlight. Gemma, Sancho, and the beautiful Susan Scott (Nieves Navarro) help make A Pistol for Ringo worth watching. Finally, there's Ennio Morricone's score. It's what I've come to expect from Morricone wonderful
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