A gunfighter contends with a pacifist sheriff, a seductive banker, a one-armed Mexican bandit, corrupt businessmen and hippies while trying to learn the secret of the money allegedly stolen by his lynched brother.
(1965) James Mitchum George Ardisson, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Jill Powers, Eduardo Ciannelli. After a search for his father's killers, Mitchum returns home only to find himself involved in a ... See full summary »
In the 19th century, when the Japanese Emperor sends a gift pony to the US President it gets stolen and ransomed by Indians but Sheriff Gideon aided by an inept Japanese servant offers to deliver the ransom.
Over the past couple of years, the English-dubbed version of this Italian-French co-production has been shown continuously on TCM UK. However, my unconditional love for Paul Leni's 1928 Silent classic (once one of my top cinematic holy grails) has always kept me away, perhaps not wishing to sully my fond memories of it. Still, now that sufficient time has elapsed and coming hot on the heels of a long list of similar Italian "sword and sandal" epics I've watched recently (a habit which seems to be nowhere near exhaustion!), I decided to give this one a go at long last...
Well, to say that Sergio Cobrucci's remake is inferior to Leni's original would be the understatement of the year. Ever since I've seen him in Luis Bunuel's BELLE DE JOUR (1967), I've always liked having Jean Sorel in a film but here, inexplicably playing a dual role, he's certainly no match for Conrad Veidt's bravura performance. The make-up itself is not particularly effective either and the film-makers' decision to take several liberties with Victor Hugo's text is a mixed blessing, too: not only has the titular character suffered a namechange (from the lyrical Gwynplaine to the more prosaic Angelo) but he even turns villainous (becoming the Court's Executioner no less) when his beloved Dea is cured of her blindness and falls for the dashing figure of a patriotic rebel played by none other than Jean Sorel himself!!
The film's setting is also unaccountably changed from 1700s Britain to Renaissance-era Italy where the hateful Borgias - Cesare (hammily portrayed here by Edmund Purdom) and Lucrezia (played by a sultry Lisa Gastoni, and the film's one undeniable bright spot) - preside over their lands with sinful recklessness. Although Veidt was also seduced by a vampish Olga Baclanova (who, amazingly for its time, does appear fleetingly naked in one sequence), unfortunately for him he wasn't allowed to indulge in any sizzling romps in the hay with her as Sorel and Gastoni do in this version. In a sense, this is also what's essentially wrong with this remake: while certainly a watchable if thoroughly routine historical melodrama, it ends up being merely a vulgarization of the sublime original with Corbucci displaying none of the visual poetry which marked Leni's masterpiece. Luckily for him, however, his luck was about to change as he immediately embarked on the film he is perhaps best-known for - the Gothic-tinged Spaghetti Western DJANGO (1966)...
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