|Index||7 reviews in total|
If you like action-packed westerns, then you'll be in for a treat when you see the marvelous masterpiece, "Blood and Guns." It has a great cast, fantastic acting, and it takes a common "good guys vs. bad guys" plot and turns it into a memorable viewing experience through humor, tragedy, and most importantly, Orson Welles. There has never been a film like this before or after its release. It's a true original! What other movie uses billy goats strapped with dynamite to attract the enemy? What other movie shows Orson Welles shooting at a man on a horse going around a little red car in cirlces? None. There is an evil doctor with a chin bigger than Jay Leno's. There is a great battle scene between the peasants and the mexican brown-suits. Tomas Milian, who played Tomas F. Dobb in a spanish version of "Revolution", is the man with the big black sombrero who taunts Orson Welles until he learns his lesson from the big man himself. There's the naive mexican boy. The frightened citizens. The violence. And Orson Welles, who actuually trips near the end of the film and the director left it in. A classic! It's very hard to find. Get it if you can.
Perhaps the Spaghetti Western genre's last word on the Mexican
Revolution (around which so many fine examples are centred) - barring,
of course, Leone's marvelous DUCK, YOU SUCKER (1971) - from one of
Italian cinema's foremost political writers, Franco Solinas. Tomas
Milian is at his best here (with which he appears to concur himself, as
per quotes found in the actor's biography included on the DVD!); his
ambiguous character is mainly revealed through the film's intermittent
flashback structure (borrowed from Sergio Leone).
Like Petroni's own DEATH RIDES A HORSE (1968), the film sees the title character being constantly 'shadowed' by someone for unspecified reasons and, like Sergio Sollima's FACE TO FACE (1967), we are presented with a clash of two personalities (and two worlds) - in this case, larger-than-life Mexican revolutionary Milian and quietly-spoken British doctor John Steiner - that could turn violent at any moment...although the confrontation between Milian and an influential Army Colonel - surprisingly underplayed by Orson Welles (but, then, his presence can only add to the film's stature) - is, at least, as important and central to the plot; indeed, their long-awaited showdown is quite splendid (even if the plot still has a couple more twists up its sleeve!). Needless to say, Ennio Morricone's stirring and unforgettable score is one of the film's trump cards (and, in fact, the SE from Italy's Alan Young Pictures I own includes the soundtrack - running approx. 26 minutes - on a second disc!) and includes a beautiful ballad sung by Christy (which, alas, is only heard in its complete form on the CD!); another crucial asset, of course, is the film's beautiful Techniscope photography.
Even so, powerful and moving though it is, the film ends up being tiresomely long if wholly engrossing: the print on offer here is vaunted as being the complete 136-minute version which has been virtually unseen since the film's original release; actually, it only lasts for 127 minutes in PAL mode, which would bring it to about 133 minutes in full...but, then, a deleted scene has been included as an extra on the DVD (albeit without sound, though accompanied by the director's comments: the dialogue couldn't even be re-recorded for completeness' sake because Petroni himself has no idea what is being said and admitted that, once a film is finished, he throws away the script!) and that's 3 minutes in length, which would account for that discrepancy! As a matter of fact, when I first watched the film (recorded off late-night Italian TV), it ran for a mere 97 minutes...though, since it's been a while, I can't discern any of the new footage - Petroni does remark, however, that the cuts effected Morricone's compositions quite severely; as for myself, I recall being underwhelmed by that preliminary experience!
Among the extensive bonus features are offered a number of mostly complimentary reviews from the time of its original release and publicity shots with the stars and director, where the film was still being advertised under its working title of VIVA LA REVOLUCION! The Audio Commentary, however, turns out to be a disappointment: advertised as being full-length, it only runs for 73 minutes (jumping to relevant scenes but, even then, there are a few gaps which sometimes run for several minutes at a stretch!); still, even if Petroni seems to be hazy about many details, his comments - urged by a moderator - make for an interesting listen nonetheless. Apparently, Solinas clashed with the director over the ending (which he didn't write and consequently hated) with the face of the deceased Tepepa superimposed on a shot of the revolutionaries riding off into the sunset (led by the young kid who plays an important part in the film, particularly in relation to the John Steiner character and who utters the great final line; weirdly enough, the child actor himself grew up to be a mafioso!). Ironically, too, Welles' involvement seems to have worked against the film because, like one of his own projects, it's been butchered and released over the years in various forms!
This has resulted in TEPEPA being largely neglected in discussions of the more significant Spaghetti Westerns; with this 'new' version, where its essential quality is more than evident, it's definitely ripe for reappraisal...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is unusual, even by spaghetti western standards. It's not
strange in an obvious, over-the-top sort of way like "El Topo."
"Tepepa" is more subtle in the way that it plays with your head.
One of the more common traits of Italian westerns in general is the lack of the old-fashioned "good guy" type of character, and "Tepepa" is certainly no exception to the rule, but this movie takes it a step further than most. In most Euro-westerns, even though there is no "good guy" per se, there still exists a hero that is someone the viewer will root for. This hero can range from the likable kind-hearted outlaw like "Blondie" from "The Good the Bad and the Ugly" to the leader of a ruthless murdering gang of thieves like "Black Jack" from the movie "Black Jack." Usually this hero or "anti-hero" ends up getting his revenge on the other scoundrel or scoundrels who have done him wrong, and the viewer of the film ends up very satisfied at the end. This movie turns that whole spaghetti western scenario inside-out in the same way that the "traditional" spaghetti western turns the "traditional" Hollywood western on its head.
In the beginning, Tomas Milian as "Tepepa" becomes the "hero" we instinctively root for. He is a killer, but it's in the name of revolution. He is trying to free his people from the tyranny of the greedy land-owners, and we see the English doctor that wants to kill him as being just a misguided man who will eventually do what's "right" and join forces with Tepepa and the revolution. But soon we begin to discover the reason why the Englishman wants to kill Tepepa, and after that, the movie begins to slowly destroy all of our preconceptions about, and attachments to, the characters in the story. The film ends up being very unsettling because we are left with no protagonist, and just feel kind of weird about everyone and everything in the film. To top it all off, the innocent ten-year-old boy (when one appears in a spaghetti western, he almost always ends up being killed) in this movie is the most cold-hearted person in the film, and he is the only main character that survives!
Tepepa is a very well-made film. The acting is excellent. Tomas Milian is great, as usual. This is a very serious western, as opposed to some of his others which have funny moments, but he plays this type of character very well, whether being humorous or not. I strongly disagree with some of the other reviewers who are critical of Orson Welles' performance in this movie. He is incredible in this film as Colonel Cascorro, the drunken, swaggering, yet soft-spoken strong-arm of the oppressive Mexican government who is out to destroy Tepepa and the revolution. Yes he mumbles at times, but that adds so much to the personality of the character, and makes him more believable. There are only a few words here and there that are hard to understand, and it doesn't interfere with ones ability to understand what's going on in the film. He plays the part with brilliant subtlety. He's like the antithesis of the usual over-the-top spaghetti western thug. Then there is Luciano Casamonica as Paquito, the aforementioned ten-year-old (approximately) boy. We start to get the hint that he's no ordinary spaghetti western child when he fails to shed a tear when his father is killed, then rides home with Tepepa who has just killed him. Later on we learn that Paquito is capable of killing without much of a reason, and showing absolutely no remorse, yet he still has this aura of innocence about him. Casamonica pulls this off quite convincingly for an actor of his age. The music score is great, as is to be expected since it is by the master, Ennio Morricone. The cinematography is also top-notch. This was definitely meant to be a quality production.
Other reviewers have commented that the US video version is drastically cut, which may account for the poor scores this movie has gotten. I don't know because I haven't seen that version. This review is based on a widescreen version that seems to be complete.
For those that love spaghetti westerns, this is a must-see film that is well worth seeking out.
The movie centers on a Mexican revolutionary nicknamed Tepepa (a
likable Tomas Milian) who joins forces an outlaw band during the
Mexican revolutionary war by time of the president Madero ( played by
Spaghetti usual secondary Francisco Sanz) . The Mexican guerrilla
leader Tepepa wielding his Mauser gun and his gang fight against the
colonel Cascorro (special appearance of Orson Welles). When illiterate
Tepepa is to be executed appears a serious and smooth-talking British
Doctor named Henry Price ( a blond John Steiner ) and saves him from
firing squad . Later on , starring duo , Milian-Steiner, undergo a
strange relation of friendship and hatred . But someone prepares a
relentless vendetta on a surprising final .
It's a magnificent western film with dazzling shootouts between the protagonists and the contenders . This film belongs to the numerous group that are set during the Mexican revolution, called ¨Zapata Western¨ , like are the Italians: ¨ Duck you sucker ,Compañeros, The mercenary ¨ and the Americans : ¨The wild bunch and The professionals¨. Tepepa is the swan song of this sub-genre. The picture blends violence, action western , plot twists, shootem'up with high body-count , it's fast movement and for that reason is entertaining, besides there is thoughtful dialog with an intelligent writing by Franco Solinas , an author of communist ideology who wrote political screenplays such classics as ¨The battle of Argel¨ and ¨I'm the Revolution¨ , the latter bears remarkable resemblance on some issues to Tepepa . The Cuban Tomas Milian, as usual, puts faces, grimaces, crying and overacting, but he plays splendidly in a character similar to ¨Cuchillo¨ from the trilogy directed by Sergio Sollima . Tomas created his own image and propelled himself to stardom in likewise fashion with such important Spaghetti as The Bounty Killer (1966) The Big Gundown (1967) with Lee Van Cleef, Face to Face (1967), Django Kill! (1967) and Run, Man, Run (1968). Enjoyable score by the maestro Ennio Morricone who composed lots of Spaghetti Western scores , it contains a sensible musical leitmotif . There are many fine technicians and nice assistants as the cameraman Francisco Marin who makes a nice photography with barren outdoors, dirty landscapes under a glimmer sun shot of course on Almeria , Spain . However , being necessary and urgent remastering because of the original is washed-out . The motion picture is well directed by Giulio Petroni who directed another classic Italian western as ¨Death rides a horse ¨ though also filmed inferior Spaghetti as ¨Night of serpent¨ and ¨A sky full of stars for a roof¨. Rating : Above average S.W. , worthwhile seeing .
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The American version of "Death Rides A Horse" director Guilio Petroni's
"Tepepa" qualifies as utterly egregious. Something is missing because
everything seems truncated, and the European cut runs about twenty
minutes longer. Mind you, this realistic but adventurous Italian
Spaghetti western about the Mexican revolution resembles later
westerns, such as Sergio Corbucci's "The Mercenary," Sergio Corbucci's
"Companeros," Damiano Damiani's "A Bullet for the General," and Sergio
Leone's "Duck, You Sucker." Unfortunately, watching the VHS copy is
like looking through a keyhole at life because this was filmed in
Techniscope at 2.35.1 so each shot looks spectacular. During the
letterboxed opening credits sequence, the visual compositions of "The
Texican" lenser Francisco Marín are breathtaking, endowing this mangled
Spaghetti with great look. Nevertheless, despite its being mutilated,
"Tepepa" looks like it might be a good movie. The peasant army ambush
of the Mexican Army is nothing short of brilliant. Orson Welles makes a
genuinely menacing villain who is proved better off dead than alive.
Not surprisingly, Tomas Milian of "The Big Gundown" makes a charismatic
as well as introspective revolutionary leader. We watch the bandit
change during the trajectory of the action. The English doctor is the
ultimate villain because he never wavers from his vow to kill the
Milian revolutionary figure. The theme that recurs through the Franco
Silanos screenplay is revenge. Interestingly, Silanos wrote both "The
Mercenary" and "A Bullet for the General" so this is familiar turf for
him. Everybody seems like they are after revenge, from the outsider
British doctor who renounces his oath as a doctor to kill an enemy to
the messiah but flawed bandit Tepepa who resumes the revolution when he
sees how the Army controls the president. Petroni and Solinas dwell on
the injustices wrought by the revolution in the on-going clash of the
haves and the have-nots. The ending and the unsavory quality of the
British doctor and the Mexican revolutionary may alienate some
audiences. This is not a cheerful, but rather a serious Spaghetti
western about the disillusion that came with the end of the revolution
and the realization that hundreds of good men had died to put a good
man into the presidency who was later manipulated by the evil men.
Although it ostensibly resembles a western, this Spaghetti belongs to the Mexican Revolution subgenre of political Italian westerns. The third act when Tepepa and his revolutionaries ambush the Mexican Army is is model of economy and violence. Petroni develops tension and suspense in this scene and stages the ambush with flair, right down to explosives soaring into our faces. Moreover, however, are the levels of sophisication that flow within the contours of this terrific scene. As the Army approaches the pass, everybody grows tense and suspicious. Suddenly, everything seem tranquil now because the army column has relaxed itself. The Mexican Colonel thinks about this aloud as relief sweeps over the column when several women driving goats approach from the north. The seasoned officer sees danger where his men now see no danger and he orders them to shoot the women tending the flock. The soldiers shoot them women down, but the goats have had time to infiltrate the column and they are wearing sticks of dynamite. BOOM!
Ennio Morricone is a musical sensation. Since he worked with Sergio Leone on "Fistful of Dollars," he created the signature musical sound of the Spaghetti western. The soundtracks that he produced often enhanced an inferior western. The distinctive sound of Morricone is something that nobody could or should imitate. Don't get me wrong, other outstanding composers, like Gianni Ferroi, Luis Enríquez Bacalov, Riz Ortolani, Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, Nico Fidenco, Francesco De Masi and Benedetto Ghiglia, thrived during the Spaghetti western years. The Ennio Morricone orchestral soundtrack is above the maestro's towering standards. The piano rift and the marching music is memorable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The American video release of Tepepa does the film no favours. Apparently suffering drastic cuts (40 minutes!) from its continental version, the film now makes little sense. Additionally, the pan and scan print seriously compromises the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Whether the original film was any good is a matter of conjecture: though John Steiner is excellent as a British doctor, Orson Welles mumbles his way through his performance as a Mexican colonel and Ennio Morricone's score is cribbed from his earlier work. Nevertheless, a DVD restoration seems absolutely necessary--we can't pass judgment on this film until we see it at full length and in widescreen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
1st watched 9/1/2001 - 3 out of 10(Dir-Giulio Petroni): Culture shock seemed to occur for me while watching this movie. I get the impression that if I was from Mexico or another country that experience the kind of life that was displayed in this movie I would have appreciated it more. I could not understand the emphasize on the title character(Tepepa) as a hero(consistently playing this silly come on let's get behind him music) as he goes about fighting for what I guess is freedom from tyrannical rule. The tyrannical ruler of this movie(played by Orson Welles) is emotionless and just not very impressive as a person but supposedly because he had the money he could rule over everyone. This is what `Tepepa' was fighting against, but by the end of the movie with both Tepepa and the Orson Welles characters killed we're still not sure whether this country will be ruled by the people or by those who have the money. This to me is the problem with revolutions in general(Enough with the social commentary, back to the movie.). Without Welles this would have been a much better movie. He mumbled his way through many scenes and just seemed misplaced in the film. As a story it actually was somewhat interesting, but as a film and production it was lacking.
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