Imagine an Italian western inspired by Marx - not Groucho, but KARL. Springing from the loins of the European mini-revolutions of 1968 comes a western with a conscience, courtesy of spaghetti socialist Sergio Sollima, who recycles his most memorable character from the 1967 The Big Gundown and builds an entire film around him.
Cuban-born Tomas Milian returns as Cuchillio, a wily yet endearingly naive opportunist who's quick with a knife but not so quick on the uptake. A quick spell in a border prison sees him share a cell with a seditious poet named Rodriguez, whose dying breath reveals the last resting place of a $3 million cache of revolution-bound gold. And so begins Cuchillio's journey, spreading his proto-revolutionary seed across the Texas border whilst pursued by a sleazy assortment of cutthroats and would-be revolutionaries, spaghetti western regular Donal O'Brien playing a sheriff with a conscience, two French secret agents, his jealous fiancé Dolores (played by the fiery Chelo Alonso), and a blond sergeant in the Salvation Army, a woman who sticks out of her unlikely surroundings like a turd tambourine. Cuchillio himself spends most of his screen time bound, gagged with dynamite, spreadeagled in some godforsaken location, or in one stunning sequence, strapped to the blade of a windmill. And STILL He doesn't lose his sense of humor.
Like The Good The Bad And The Ugly it's a deliberately open-ended epic quest for hidden treasure, but without Leone's grandiose scale and pretentious camera histrionics. It's more like The Wizard of Oz wrapped in a burrito, and peppered with the most random of supporting characters. The usual grimness of these spaghetti westerns is contrasted with Tomas Milian's comic timing, a rousing score by an uncredited Ennio Morricone, and a surprising cameo from veteran American actor John Ireland as a crusty, battle-scarred soldier of the class struggle.
Socialist westerns don't usually come this entertaining - come to think of it, socialists are rarely funny at all! So enjoy the picaresque, picturesque and thankfully undogmatic 1968 Run Man Run.
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