|Index||5 reviews in total|
This is a spaghetti western that is genuinely funny, but it also has
its share of serious action which keeps it from being just another
run-of-the-mill light-weight comedy.
Adorf and Gemma are great as the protagonists of this film, and I find them much more believable than Terence Hill and Bud Spencer. Federico Boido and Anthony Dawson are even better as the over-the-top father-and-son villains who are hunting for Gemma. They are very entertaining to watch. Boido's character is especially funny, and both are marvelously ruthless. The showdown at the end of the film is classic.
The music score by Ennio Morricone is great, as always, even though its far from being one of his best.
This is definitely a movie worth watching, especially for Euro-western fans.
Ah, such beautiful music!
This film opens with a classic sequence. A stagecoach is attacked by a gang, with all the passengers brutally massacred. Cue Morricone's haunting soundtrack as the camera focuses on the dead, and in particular the face of a blonde girl. A hand brushes the dust from her face,and the camera pans up to show the sorrowful face of Billy (Giuliano Gemma). A truly moving scene, but made particularly so because of Morricone's music.
In a way, this opening sequence is quite out of place with the remainder of the movie. The rest is a light-hearted affair, based around the partnership of Billy and Larry (Mario Adorf). Billy is a smart, world-wise man, whilst Larry is not gifted with the greatest amount of intelligence. This is a perfect foil for Billy, who is a convincing conman and successful in getting the better out of his gullible partner throughout the film (including robbing him of his entire life savings).
The action really hots up when the character of Roger Pratt (Federico Boido) is introduced properly (until this stage, he is purely the face of the gang leader from the opening ambush). He is a brutal man, tracking down Billy on behalf of his father Samual Pratt (Anthony Dawson). The second half of the movie concentrates on this pursuit, with Samual also arriving on the scene and proving to be as barbaric as his short-fused offspring.
Director Giulio Petroni (of "Death Rides a Horse" fame) adopts a similar style to the one used in his later Milian cast "Life is Tough, Right Providence?". It shares its episodic structure, and "clever man/thick man" partnership. Anyone that has read my other reviews will probably have noticed that I do not generally like the more light-hearted westerns. However, I did very much enjoy most of this particular film (the same could not be said of "Providence" incidentally).
Gemma does not look as comfortable with the more comedic role as he does to that of an angel-faced gunman. But he still looks and acts the part - as likable in this film as ever. Adorf meanwhile is suitably oafish (in a role that would have been perfect for Bud Spencer), as Boido and Dawson are villainous.
A particular highlight of the film is a superb scene as Billy cons his way into the house of a beautiful Widow (played by the frankly gorgeous Magda Konopka). Another very beautiful Spaghetti Western actress, part sorrowful and part sexually teasing.
As my review closes, I must dwell further on that opening sequence. The background to this massacre is never fully explained - perhaps those killed have been unfortunate acquaintances of Billy, and suitably punished by the Pratt gang. I don't know. And, in its serious nature, it perhaps feels like a scene that doesn't really belong in this film. But... if you watch it for no other reason, then watch it for this powerful prologue (even close your eyes just to hear Morricone's score). I am also quite confident as you sit through the whole film that you will find other scenes that you will enjoy.
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.
Mario Adorf hunts down con-man Giuliano Gemma, who swindled him out of
six-hundred dollars worth of gold, only to partner up with him for a
series of crooked money-making schemes and a few encounters with a
psychotic gunman from Gemma's past.
This lightly comedic western is likable enough, though a little too loosely plotted. After awhile, one begins to wonder what exactly is the the point of all the duo's hijinks. However, the climax is definitely worth hanging around for.
The entire film hangs solely on the charisma of it's two stars, who don't disappoint. The score by Ennio Morricone is pretty good too.
After a violent opening - a stagecoach assault - this buddy western
delivers little of the usual violence and action which pertain to the
Spaghetti Western subgenre. The 2 leads appear out of nowhere without
any information about their past. Slow witted Harry (played in a
comedic style by Mario Adorf) seems to have waited for the assault to
come sitting right next to his packed mule. As the movie goes on the
two small time con men are going through various episodic adventures.
Those who look for tough heroes or serious characters should abstain
from this film but if you like to pay little attention to a story this
one could be a recommendation.
Very unusual score from E. Morricone which underlines the low key mood of the story and good but not outstanding cinematography.
4 / 10. ( a weak 4 )
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