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Peter Lee Lawrence,
A laconic drifter, who calls himself Nebraska, is hired as a ranch hand by Marthy Hillman and his wife Kay who are under pressure from a ruthless landowner, named Bill Carson, who extorts money from the ranchers. When Carson sets his sights on Kay, Nebraska eventually decides not to stay out of it and plans to save Hillman from Carson's men and rescue Kay. Written by
The original director, Antonio Román, was fired by producer Fulvio Lucisano for his slow pace and not meeting the standards after directing less than 10% of the film. Although Mario Bava directed the bulk of the movie, he is not credited at all for directing it. See more »
The first time Kay and Nebraska kiss, the cameraman casts his shadow on Nebraska's back as he circles them. See more »
solid, unpretentious spaghetti western, Ken Clark is excellent
This review is of the pan-and-scan AIP-TV version of this film, called SAVAGE GRINGO. I taped it off TV about 20 years ago. I liked it then, and I like it now just having re-watched it. The few references to this film I've seen note that Mario Bava took over the direction from Antonio Roman, who is solely credited on the copy I have of this film, and then fault the film because it has few if any distinctively Bava touches in it. If you are looking for an Italian western that is to the genre what HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD is to sword-and-sandal films, look elsewhere, as you won't get it here. With so many Italian westerns having so many odd cinematic techniques used in them, SAVAGE GRINGO is actually quite conventional. Perhaps Bava simply just did a professional job on this and did NOT see it as an auteur piece on which he would put his personal stamp or with which he would make some statement about life and art. He had already worked with Ken Clark previously in ROAD TO FORT ALAMO/ ARIZONA BILL (a film which DID have a number of Bava touches to it)--perhaps that was one reason he was asked to complete this film? In any event, Clark is fantastic in this role. He is tall and athletic and one of the better American actors to work in the spaghetti western genre--it's a shame he only made two. His character NEBRASKA is fascinating although enigmatic, and creates a warmth and passion in the role. He's also VERY quick with a gun and it's exciting to see him come out of the woodwork in the blink of an eye and blow someone away. Personally, I don't have a problem with his motivations never being clearly stated--isn't that a little bit like real life? While we have a feeling that Nebraska will win in the end, we don't really know HOW he will get to that point or what barriers he will face along the way, so I don't see that as causing any lack of suspense. The suspense is caused by wondering how the situation got to the point it did--who exactly is Kay? Why does she point out that she's not married to Marty, and if not, what exactly is going on here? How did this Bill Carter get to be running things? What's Nebraska's perspective on this? In a way, the film plays against our expectations of what we expect from other films. Judged solely as a spaghetti western, NOT as a Mario Bava film, I've got to give this an above average rating. It's not wildly original, but like an old genre western with Johnny Mack Brown or Charles Starrett (we always know the ending of one of their films in advance, don't we?), it moves quickly, has a lot of fistfights and gunplay, and has the right attitude. And Ken Clark is superb in a rare Western appearance. I have a French language version of the previous Bava-Clark western, Arizona Bill. I'll have to watch it again now (got it 10+ years ago) after seeing this one, and I've got the DVD of ROY COLT... (Bava's 3rd and final western) on order.
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