A SKY FULL OF STARS FOR A ROOF (Giulio Petroni, 1968) ***
The first time I watched this I rated it only **1/2; among the first to send up the Spaghetti Western genre, I tended to overlook it in favor of the director's more sobering DEATH RIDES A HORSE and TEPEPA (both 1968). Still, it's such an engaging, consistently entertaining and often uproariously funny film that rating it any lower than *** would suggest that it's less than good, which certainly isn't the case!
The film's rambling narrative revolves yet again around the buddy-buddy formula in an obviously broader vein; even so, the film has its serious side since it opens with a stagecoach massacre and a similar fate befalls a couple of traveling circus performers towards the end - the perpetrators are a gang of criminals hotly in pursuit of ex-comrade and sharpshooter Giuliano Gemma who wants out (he doesn't even carry a gun anymore), preferring to make his living as a confidence-trickster (which, as it turns out, is no less precarious or law-abiding than being a bandit!).
His companion, more often dupe, is Mario Adorf turning in an inspired performance as the gullible and gruff yet amiable would-be rancher (whom Gemma embroils in many a scheme - fake telegraph service, circus acts involving a siren and Adorf himself fitted with a loincloth and breathing fire - to fleece the unsuspecting townsfolk). At one point, Adorf himself is made to invest all his savings in an inexistent bank and, later, falls for his partner's ruse that a funeral procession they meet up with is for a famous bandit who has a fortune buried in his back-yard (only to learn, after having dug a hole "all the way down to Hell", that he had been wheelchair-bound since childhood) just so Gemma could make out with the deceased's luscious young wife - the dinner-table scene between Gemma and Magda Konopka here is highly reminiscent of the celebrated one featured in TOM JONES (1963). Forsaking Gemma for a visionary drunk, Adorf manages to rob a gold shipment by posing as a Wells Fargo employee - though his partner in this venture turns out to be a bloodthirsty maniac who mows down an entire Army platoon which sets out in pursuit of them!
Anthony Dawson turns up at the climax as the sadistic chief villain; having taken refuge in Adorf's dilapidated ranch (which they leisurely restore), our heroes then see their dreamhouse literally go up in smoke when they are forced to blow the place up with Dawson's gang still inside! The tireless Ennio Morricone provides yet another exemplary score; the wistful main theme is especially striking.
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