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 »
SAVAGE GRINGO (Antonio Roman and, uncredited, Mario Bava, 1966) **1/2
I managed to acquire this rare Spaghetti Western just in time for my ongoing Bava retrospective: in fact, I opted to start with it since this was one of only three titles I had never watched before. I wish I had the time to read through Tim Lucas' chapter on the film in his long-in-coming (and, thus, appropriately massive) Bava biography especially given his uncredited contribution here when, reportedly, he actually replaced Roman quite early into shooting! Anyway, this is one of three Spaghetti Westerns made by this cult figure and, having now checked out all of them, I can safely say it is the most satisfying (if still far from a key work for either director or genre); obviously, while Bava tried his hand at most any type of film within the "Euro-Cult" stable, he was clearly at his most comfortable (or, if you like, inspired) when handling fantasy/horror/thriller elements! Apart from the trademark inventive camera-work, one thing which alerts one to Bava's involvement is the presence of both hero and villain: one is the star of his previous Spaghetti Western entry, THE ROAD TO FORT ALAMO (1964; which was pretty decent in itself), i.e. brawny Ken Clark (hence, the U.S. moniker for this is more than a bit misleading!) and the other, Piero Lulli, would play a major role in one of the director's best films KILL, BABY KILL! (1966) Though usually one of the main assets, the score for this one is no great shakes nor is there a particular emphasis on violence (nevertheless, the action set-pieces are above-par for the course); what we do get is a reasonably engaging (if thoroughly unsurprising, even in making the heroine out to be something of a conniver) plot which keeps moving, thus allowing one little time to ponder on its potential shortcomings!
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