1968 was a very good year in films. For most specialists though, it is the emblematic year of a tumultuous period in world politics, and it has been mostly analyzed by historians, sociologists and philosophers. An analysis of films from this perspective is always interesting, but I know very few works dealing with this topic: it would be propitious to do it for the 50th anniversary of those events (in 2018), because during that year many major works were released, as varied as "if....", "Faces", "Memorias del subdesarrollo", "Night of the Living Dead", "Teorema", "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Fando y Lis" or "Salesman" and this is just a handful. Of course, if we consider 1968 in film from the viewpoint of denunciation, militancy, pamphlets and banners, the honor would go to the monumental Argentinean film and masterpiece of world documentary, "The Hour of the Furnaces". In the field of genre, if we had to choose a paradigmatic 1968 European western, the obvious option would be "Once Upon a Time in the West", a drama about the expansion of civilization in the United States, through uncivil methods. However, the plot of "Run, Man, Run", another European western of 1968, combined the political-activist spirit and the fun of those days (to get an idea, the pop and soul hit-parades of the year are a big help, as well as films as "Joanna", "Vixen", and the like): the film is the culmination of Sergio Sollima's trilogy, preceded by "The Big Gundown" and "Face to Face". Here the action takes place against the Mexican revolution of the 1910s, a conflict of epic proportion with diverse sides, from agrarian problems to military struggle, class conflict, religious controversy and vandalism, without forgetting American interventionism. By choosing this background, the scriptwriters were able to address all these sides, to reflect the spirit of rebellion in 1968 in a costume drama, and to insert many contemporary slogans and common phrases of the left. In the end, though, the tone is more ironic and parodic than dramatic: with a leading character as peculiar as the thieving scoundrel Manuel "Cuchillo" Sánchez; with Dolores (Chelo Alonso), Cuchillo's assertive woman and a revised version of the "soldadera" (a female follower of soldiers), opposite to the Adelita of Mexican folk; and with Cassidy (Donald O'Brien), an atypical American bounty hunter who opts to support the Mexican revolution, it is logic that the final product is an amusing ride, full of emotions, laughs and tension. As Cuchillo, formidable Tomas Milian is probably the greatest Cuban actor that I have ever seen in films, while for the first time I was able to see his fellow countrywoman Chelo Alonso in a good role that justified her characteristic fierceness beyond caricature, although in many moments there is a lot of humor, as in a demented comic book. The film also contains scenes of great splendor, as the horse persecution through the snow; confrontations with guns and knives; a wonderful score by Ennio Morricone, who, for apparent contractual reasons, had to give composing credits to his collaborator and arranger Bruno Nicolai; a multi-colored gallery of villains, including the loud-mouthed bandit Riza (Nello Pazzafini), the greedy Salvation Army official Penny (Linda Veras) and two ruthless French mercenaries (Marco Guglielmi and Luciano Rossi); and revolution leaders with marked differences: poet Ramírez (José Torres) and megalomaniac Santillana (John Ireland). An original and enjoyable European western, and a very good motion picture, still vigorous 46 years after its first release.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?