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Navajo Joe (1966)

Not Rated | | Western | 25 November 1966 (Italy)
A Native American warrior called Navajo Joe seeks revenge on a gang of sadistic outlaws who has massacred the people of his tribe.



(story), (screenplay) (as Dean Craig) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mervyn 'Vee' Duncan (as Aldo Sanbrell)
Estella - Mrs. Lynne's maid
Rev. Rattigan
Tanya Lopert ...
Maria - Saloon Girl
Franca Polesello ...
Barbara - Saloon Girl
Lucia Modugno ...
Geraldine - Wounded Saloon Girl
Pierre Cressoy ...
Dr. Chester Lynne (as Peter Cross)
Roberto Paoletti ...
Sheriff Johnson
Nino Imparato ...
Chuck Holloway - Banjo Player (as Antonio Imparato)
Lucio Rosato ...
Jeffrey Duncan
Valeria Sabel ...
Hannah Lynne
Mario Lanfranchi ...
Jefferson Clay - Mayor
Oliver Blackwood - Bank Manager (as Angel Alvarez)
Rafael Albaicín ...
Mexican Scalphunter (as Rafael Albaicin)


A Native American warrior called Navajo Joe seeks revenge on a gang of sadistic outlaws who has massacred the people of his tribe.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Relentless in his vengeance! Deadly in his violence! See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

25 November 1966 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

A Dollar a Head  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In both of the western films in which Burt Reynolds plays an Indian character, he is called Joe. He is Navajo Joe in his film and Yaqui Joe Herrera in 100 Rifles (1969). See more »


When the outlaws stop the train by blocking the tracks with trees, there is not a tree anywhere in sight. See more »


Jeffrey Duncan: Nobody ever had mercy on me. When I was a boy they beat me. Even called me bastard. I didn't cry and I couldn't fight back. So thaY began my reveange to get back at them. Brought out my hatred for the indians, like my mother. And I kill white people like my father. My father... A preacher like you, a minister. Breed by mercy. But I got a bad breake when somebody killed him and beat me to the punch.
See more »


Featured in The Hollywood Sign (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

There's a difference between being stupid and being bad
14 February 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Is NAVAJO JOE a stupid movie? Oh yeah, you better believe it. Is it a bad movie? Surprisingly, no. To a significant degree, NAVAJO JOE makes up for its farcical plot with its great style.

First, Sergio Corbucci knew how to make good-looking movies. Or at least, he knew how to make this one look good. He laps up the shots of the sere Western landscape (Spain, as usual in spaghetti westerns, stands in for the American frontier). He knows whose faces the camera loves and gives them lots of affectionate close-ups. He knows how to put a rose against a background that makes it look even redder, like a spot of blood on the screen. Kudos to cinematographer Silvano Ippoliti, but the cinematographer can only photograph what the director tells him to, and Corbucci knew what to shoot.

Second, Corbucci manages to keep his leading man off of the screen most of the time. Burt Reynolds is atrocious. His stuntman, on the other hand, is superb. They combine to give us Navajo Joe, one of the most athletic western heroes you'll ever see. Unlike the typical western lead who gets most of his exercise transferring his Colt .45 to and from its holster, Joe believes in getting close and personal whenever he can, usually by flying through the air, climbing onto rocks and roofs, and otherwise dealing with the situation acrobatically. The movie poster ridiculously shows Reynolds aiming a bow, which he never once uses in the movie; as any smart Indian would, Joe uses a Winchester rifle for long-range combat. But he uses even the Winchester athletically, holding down the trigger and pumping the lever action frenetically to shoot down his foes.

Third, that `Leo Nichols' you saw credited with the music is really Ennio Morricone, who, with all due apologies to Nino Rota, is the undisputed king of Italian film music. Like many of his themes it is a choral piece, apparently inspired by Indian tribal songs but reworked to fit Morricone's own standards, and it is superb. NAVAJO JOE is the only movie I have ever watched solely for the music. It is amazing to consider that Morricone did four better themes for Leone alone, while for most film composers this theme would be a career best.

Fourth, the movie exposes some of the injustices that European settlers did to American Indians without ever giving in to the modern assumption that the Indian victims of these evils must themselves have been saints.

As you can see, the elements of a classic western were there. But alas, Corbucci dropped the ball short of the goal line. For one thing, he hasn't got a clue what to do with Nicoletta Machiavelli. She's the top-billed lady, and she's gorgeous, but she doesn't get to take any part in the action. She doesn't even get to kiss the hero. It goes without saying that the characters are paper-thin, and the one who is most humanized is not Joe but Aldo Sambrell's villainous Mervyn (who has a funny scene where he tears down the `Wanted' sign for his brother and crumples it up, but carefully removes his own and puts it away for safekeeping).

Furthermore, NAVAJO JOE is a textbook example of what Ebert called the Idiot Plot; that is, a movie whose plot can only proceed if everyone involved is an idiot. The initial massacre which motivates the hero for the rest of the film depends on his wife being idiot enough to show not the slightest suspicion when an armed horseman rides up to her when she is alone and defenseless. Joe's survival is due largely to Mervyn's inexplicable decision never to send more than two or three of his thirty-or-so outlaws after him at one time. The secondary villain fails to see that, once he has guided Mervyn to the gold, Mervyn will have no more use for him. Mervyn's hard-bitten brother Jeffrey is given an invitation that has `TRAP' written all over it, and proceeds directly into the trap without the slightest suspicion. The most absurd part of all, though, is when Mervyn drags the servant girl Estella into the street, right under the muzzle of Joe's rifle, and threatens to shoot her unless Joe surrenders. Does Joe (a) shoot him through the head, or (b) surrender? You guessed it, he surrenders. Now does Mervyn, having seen that Joe will cave in to any threat to Estella, threaten again to shoot Estella unless Joe tells him where the money is? Nope, he spends fruitless hours beating the living dung out of our hero, and when that doesn't work, strings him up by his heels. He doesn't even muss Estella's hair.

NAVAJO JOE was Dino De Laurentiis' answer to A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. Obviously, it doesn't even come close; FISTFUL was every bit as stylish as JOE and had a good story too. But if you measure JOE by what it achieved, not by what it tried to achieve, you'll find it's pretty decent.

Rating: ** out of ****

Recommendation: Western fans should catch it on TV.

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