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A spaghetti western surprise with Anthony Quinn as a "priest" and Charles
Bronson as a Mestizo malcontent.
The movie has a theme, a developed plot, some actors with charisma and an Ennio Morricone score. That's more than most movies give you, regardless of genre.
I was pleased to find that Spaghettiville isn't a one-horse (Eastwood/Leone) town.
8 out of 10.
Over the years I seemed to have missed this great picture with Anthony Quinn, Charles Bronson, Sam Jaffe and Anjanette Comer. At first I was not sure if I was going to like this picture because Sam Jaffe,(Father Joseph),"The Dunwich Horror",'70, gave the impression it was going to be a long boring film about the struggles of a poor priest in the desert. I was soon fooled as Anthony Quinn,(Leon Alastray),"The Shoes of the Fisherman",'68 is befriended by Father Joseph and at one point takes over the church and rings the bell of the church to summon the local people who are hiding in the hills. Leon Alastray meets up with Anajanette Comer,(Kinita),"The Baby",'73, who has very deep romantic feels for Leon and wants to make love, however, Leon is overwhelmed with a strong religious feeling and is unable to cooperate. There is lots of action battles and even a cannon gets into the action along with plenty of arrows flying through the air. It is a very entertaining film and Anthony Quinn had me laughing in quite a few parts of the film.
This is one of those films that nearly loses you, but in the end
rewards you for sitting through it. It makes for a very good view,
despite its leisurely pace at times.
In summary Anthony Quinn stars as a outlaw that is saved by Father John, whom he escorts to the village of San Sebastian. The village is deserted, with its cowardly residents hiding in the hills from indians, who pillage their crops and burn their buildings. When Father John is murdered, the outlaw is mistaken as the man of god by the villagers, and assists them in regaining their confidence and defending themselves.
Quinn is superb in his role, complimented by Charles Bronson, who plays the bad guy "half breed" Teclo. Sam Jaffe's Father Joseph character is also very likable.
Whilst the movie is quite slow in places, this only helps to plot out the story. Although casting the indians as the "bad guys", it does explain that the massacre of the villagers is no different than what the white man has done to their own race "in the name of god".
The soundtrack is again provided by Ennio Morricone and, whilst not his best work, does help provide the suitable atmosphere, borrowing heavily from some of his other compositions.
Definitely worth a view.
Anthony Quin plays Leon Alastray, part time revolutionary and full time bandit, on the run from the Spanish authorities in Old Mexico in the 18th Century. Through a series of unlikely but possible events, Quinn is mistaken for a priest whom has come to the small village of San Sebastian. The villagers are being victims by Jaime Fernandez and his band of Yacquis. Charles Bronson plays (badly, worst performance of his career) a half-breed whose loyalties are always suspect. Anjanette Comely, er Comer, plays the sultry love interest. Rather silly story, good cinematography, fairly good special effects, and outstanding music (by the master, Ennio Morricone) makes this a worthwhile view. Turner Classic Movies shows it in letterbox. Otherwise, you are out of luck. It's not available in video.
The movie begins bad with some bad story-flow and also the rest of the
movie suffers from this, though the movie definitely gets better as the
movie progresses. In the beginning it isn't too clear were the movie is
heading to and the movie makes a pretty formulaic and redundant
impression. However from the moment on when the main character arrives
in San Sabastian, the story gets developed well and becomes interesting
and original. This certainly ain't no formulaic spaghetti western. The
movie gets multiple layered, when it concentrates on the divine. It
helps the characters to develop well and the story to become
interesting. The movie certainly shows some parallels to the movie "The
Mission", even though it isn't as beautifully and professionally made.
It doesn't seem like it at first but the movie becomes surprisingly action filled toward the ending, with some quite big scale battles. Also the ending most certainly does not disappoint.
The movie has some good actors that help to flesh out the flat characters. Anthony Quinn is a good main lead and he makes the moral change his character goes through seem believable. Charles Bronson plays a good movie villain, though his character is perhaps a bit underused. Further more the movie features Sam Jaffe, once again in the role of a Christian.
The directing isn't much good, since the story-flow of the movie is quite poor at times, which is also due to some bad editing. Nevertheless the movie is filled with some memorable and great looking sequences, although it's also definitely true that most of those sequences are being uplifted by the musical score by Ennio Morricone.
Definitely worth seeing if you get the chance.
This exciting picture deals with an outlaw disguising himself as priest
who helps defend tribal land ,(people living on the edges of themselves
and their resourcefulness and limited supplies) from a gang of mean
bandits and rebel Indians that want tribe's crop . ¨Two hundred years
ago Mexico was ruled by a King in far-off Spain who was attempting to
impose an alien religion and system of law upon a proud but diverse
people . They ranged from simple villagers , torn between old and new ,
to the most warlike of the Indian tribes : the Yaquis who were
determined to resist all change . This is the story of Astray who chose
to fight both the king and the Yaquis ¨ . Leon Alastray (Anthony Quinn)
is a bandit who has been given sanctuary in a church by Father John
(Sam Jaffe), whom he then accompanies to the village of San Sebastian
(Mexico) . The village is deserted, with its cowardly residents hiding
in the ridges from Yaquis, who ordinarily attack the little town and
rob all their food . When Father John is killed, the villagers
mistakenly believe the bandit is a parish priest . Alastray at first
tell them he is not a priest, but they don't believe it, and an
apparent miracle on a San Sebastian sculpture seems to demonstrate they
are correct . After that , the priest train them to kill and defending
themselves when the village is besieged by the violent Yaquis .
Meanwhile , the Indian war party (commanded by Jaime Fernandez as
Golden Lance) and a rebel group (led by Charles Bronson) then head out
to conquer the Mexican village held in an impregnable fortress that the
villagers have built and the priest assists them in regaining their
This Western movie produced by Jacques Bar is a Franco-Mexican-Italian co-production,; it packs thrills, emotion, romance, action packed , extraordinary performances and spectacular finale battle . This Western-drama is an interesting story that carries a genuine charge of intelligence with exciting battle of wits between an upright outlaw and a nasty mestizo . Sensational acting by two big star names, Anthony Quinn and Charles Bronson . Strong secondary cast plenty of Mexican actors as Silvia Pinal, Pedro Armendariz Jr , Enrique Lucero, Jaime Fernandez, Chano Urueta and special mention to Sam Jaffe as kind old priest and Leon Askin as Vicar General . Interesting and thrilling screenplay by the prestigious James R Webb . Very good cinematography filmed in Metrocolor by Armand Thirard and on location in Durango, El Saltito, Durango, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato, Mexico . Sensible musical score by the maestro Ennio Morricone in one of his best scores , including particular style and sound . The picture is splendidly directed by Henry Verneuil, a Turkish director working in France from the 40s. Although not a director of great reputation among the critics, his movies have almost all been aimed squarely at the commercial market. Verneuil is an expert on heist-genre such as he proved in ¨The Sicilians clan(68)¨ also with Gabin and Delon, ¨The burglars(1971)¨with Omar Shariff and Jean Paul Belmondo , furthermore on Warlike genre : ¨Weekend at Dunkirk¨and ¨The 25th hour¨and only one Western : Guns of San Sebastian(68)¨. He seemed to have dropped out of the film-making after 1976, but in 1981 unexpectedly reappeared with yet another of his caper film : ¨Thousand millions of dollars¨. Rating : Good movie and above average, a must see for Western lovers and Quinn and Bronson fans.
The European Western takes a couple steps back in time with the rascal-mistaken-for-clergy theme, a proved device that worked for Bogie in "The Left Hand of God" & Whoopi in "Sister Act." In colonial Mexico, bandit Leon (Quinn) takes refuge with dedicated Father Joseph (Jaffe) & escapes when the priest is transferred to a forsaken northern village. The villagers, terrified of marauding Yaquis & exploited by a frontier protection racket led by embittered half-Yaqui Teclo (Bronson), mistake Leon for the priest & implore him for miracles. Unable to escape back into colonial settlement & tempted by naive, spirited village girl Kinita (Comer), he teaches the villagers to fight back & believe in themselves rather than praying for miracles. Quinn is colorful as ever but not quite believable making the transition from Leon the selfish, godless rascal to Leon the selfless, principled hero, though he is properly scruffy all the way through. Comer is fetching but Bronson is only bulky & menacing. Two extraordinary talents--Gravet as a stuffy bishop & the legendary Silvia Pinal as Leon's conniving girlfriend--are relegated to minor, superficial roles. The time period is wrong for the film's big gunfights, since firearms were clumsy & rare in the 18th century. But the tongue-in-cheek flavor of the spaghetti Western, with a scruffy rascal confounded, puzzled & frustrated on the way to his selfish goal, holds true all the way through. The Yaquis are represented--up to a point--with the sympathy typical of Westerns of circa 1970. A subplot, Leon's pursuit of a wild white horse, is an effective, slightly surreal device. A contribution by Bunuel, Jr., the 2nd unit director? Oh, my God, this movie has Silvia Pinal & Juan Luis Bunuel! It's the closest thing to a surrealist Western!
The original story written by William Faherty was called " 'A wall for San Sabastian' and later under the direction of Henri Vernevil changed to " Guns For San Sabastian. " The late great Anthony Quinn plays the titled character Leon Alastray, a fugitive outlaw and bandito running from the military police. Wounded and helpless, he takes refuge in a Catholic Church under the protection of Father Joseph (Sam Jaffe) and Sanctuary. With the good priest being sent to a forgotten mission, where it's residents live in fear of the Native American, Yaki Apache, Alastray stows away and arrives at the distant mission, where Father Joseph is murdered. Due to circumstances, Leon take's the old priest's place and serves as protector and counselor to the frightened populace. Among the heavies of the film, audience members will see a very young, Charles Bronson, Jorge Martínez De Hoyos and Jaime Fernández as 'Golden Lance.' The story is slow to develop, but does rise to the occasion when expected, to such a degree it has become a Western Classic. Fine casting and good story. Recommended. ****
See it - A pretty stereotypical plot about villagers who must stand up for themselves and fight against the bad guys who have been pushing them around for years. It sounds like "The Magnificent Seven," but this story is unique enough in its own right. Anthony Quinn is a fugitive on the run who is shown kindness by a priest. When the priest is killed, Quinn impersonates the priest and becomes the leader that the village of San Sebastian so badly needs. A leader who is willing to fight against the villain played by Charles Bronson. A pretty average movie, but it has an awesome "Alamo-like" final battle and a great ending! 3 out of 5 action rating.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a very different sort of so-called 'Spaghetti Western'. First,
unlike most, it's not filmed in Spain but in Mexico. Second, it really
isn't nearly as violent as the norm and is much more story and
character-driven. It lacks the stylistic violence you'd expect in such
a film. Third, it's set in the 18th century--about a hundred years
before the usual western film--though at times, it looks much more 19th
century than it should (such as the types of weapons and their accuracy
as well as the clothing in some scenes). It's also apparently a
French-Italian-Mexican co-production! But, on the other hand, it does
have music from Ennio Morricone and looks like an Italian-made western.
And, like many of these films it has a couple Americans in the leads
(Anthony Quinn and Charles Bronson). So it's kind of a Spaghetti
Western and kind of not one at the same time.
The film begins with Quinn playing a bandit who is trying to escape from the Spanish army. He rushes to a church to claim sanctuary and it is granted by the local Father (Sam Jaffe). But Jaffe's superiors are not at all pleased about this and banish him to the hellish desert town of San Sebastian. Quinn escorts him there and the place is deserted. Shortly after arriving, a bandit murders Jaffe and the people (all hiding in the hills due to repeated Yaqui Indian raids) think Quinn is their new priest. Quinn is not at all interested in the role but reluctantly is guilted into at least pretending to be one for now. He does a lot to help the town and actually, at times, tries to promote peace--and WHY he did all this, since he's an atheist bandit, is totally unclear. Additionally, when the devoted townspeople quickly turn on him, you can't help but think the writing could have been better. People change too quickly and without clear motivations. Despite these serious shortcomings in the script, you can't help but wonder how Quinn will help these people--especially since one of their 'friends' is actually in league with the Yaqui marauders. Plus, you wonder what will become of this bandit by the end of the film.
Despite the film's many shortcomings, it does entertain. While you could pick apart the various problems with the movie, overall it's pretty good. Quinn is his usual excellent self while Bronson is mostly wasted. And as for action, the final portion of the film is pretty exciting.
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