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The Five Man Army is a Spaghetti Western made toward the end of the cycle financed by MGM and Directed by American Don Taylor.The visuals are strong and pacing is adequate with an interesting blend of Italian and American Actors with one Samurai character thrown in. While this film does not have the style of a Sergio Leone Production it does have two very strong elements of his , the screenplay by Dario Argento and the sixth character in the army Ennio Morricone's brilliant score. These themes have haunted me for thirty years since I first saw this film at a drive-in. It is as strong as The Good The Bad and The Ugly. Perhaps not as diverse as Once upon a Time in the West where every Character has their own theme, but every bit as powerful. It is ultimately the score that carries this film, as the acting is pretty stiff. The Screenplay is typical of Argento light on dialogue with a twist at the end, of course this is early in his career. If you like your Spaghetti al dente only you may not care for this film. But if you are like me, a fan of this lost genre you may savor every bite of this Delicious side dish. Makes a great double bill with "My Name is Nobody".
Totally underrated and massive fun - this is the result of a group of
nine year olds thinking up a spaghetti Western - hey, let's have a
Samurai, and that guy from Mission Impossible, oooh and an impossibly
big and strong one, and an acrobat, and an explosives expert, but let's
keep it to only 5 that's even better than Magnificent Seven...
And so it goes....
It really is one of the best blokes' films of all time, just the right mix of adventure and fun, and all wrapped around an ingenious plot to rob a gold train.
With a good score, that'll remind you of every Western you've every heard, a couple of good chases, a jail break, and even mean and nasty Army types it really is a lot of fun...
Highly recommended as one of the classic pizza and beer movies, it is a real shame that it hasn't been seen more often... deserves to be a classic.
The Five Man Army are "The Dutchman" (Peter Graves) and four colleagues
from previous escapades - Mesito (Bud Spencer), a big brute of a man
that can knock out an opponent with a big thump to the top of the head
(so, the usual Bud Spencer character then!); Samurai (Tetsuro Tamba), a
ruthless sword bearing oriental; Captain Augustus (James Daly), an
expert with dynamite; and Luis Dominguez (Nino Castelnuovo) an acrobat
turned outlaw and the "baby" of the group.
The Dutchman has gathered the clan with the promise of a $1,000 reward if they can successfully carry out a robbery of a train (bearing gold to the value of £1 million) on behalf of the Mexican Revolution. The catch is that the train is heavily guarded by soldiers, with the military posted at regular intervals along the journey to resist any attempted theft.
This film is an Italian/American co-production, and it does bear traits of both nations particular western styles. It is at times highly entertaining, mostly pretty dumb but always very watchable. The highlight of the movie is the contrasting characters, who are all very likable (albeit fairly clichéd). James Daly in particular has a good role as the ageing Captain Augustus, constantly doubting his (and his colleagues) ability to carry out the heist.
The actual robbery itself takes up nigh on half an hour of this movie, with very little dialogue. The scene is well filmed though and does not drag too badly at all. It also features a great scene where the bodies of the armed soldiers are waved about frantically as a signal to the nearby patrolling military that all is well.
Ennio Morricone's score is rousing (of course), but does sound like a muddled jigsaw of many of his other works. It fits perfectly, however.
It may sound like I am being critical of this film, and I guess that there are a few shortcomings with it. But if you ignore its occasional predictability and just take it for what it is - a highly entertaining yet simple western - you are pretty much guaranteed to enjoy it from beginning to end. I know I did.
Five Man Army may not be as epic or as groundbreaking as other
Spaghetti Western films, but it's a lot of fun to watch and overall,
provides a good slice of western action. My main reason for tracking
down and seeing this film is due to the fact that it was co-scripted by
Italian horror maestro and one of the men behind Sergio Leone's
masterpiece 'Once Upon a Time in the West', Dario Argento. Argento
worked on scripts for a number of Spaghetti westerns, and while this is
only the second that I've seen (Leone's masterwork being the other
one), it's the one that gets mentioned second most often, which leads
to believe that it's one of his best. The plot centres on a man named
'The Dutchman', who hatches a plot to rob a train of $500,000 worth of
gold. He can't do it on his own, however, and so recruits the services
of four men with expertise in different areas. They all have something
to prove, and the $1000 he's offering for their help gives them the
initiative to try and prove it. The film then follows the makeshift
'Five Man Army', as they steal the gold.
The film begins with a man going round asking the prospective members of the army to join the foolhardy scheme. This sort of plot device is common in the movie, as it's all rather simply told. However, if you ask me this is a good thing as some films like this tend to get a bit too complicated, and it can take something away from the enjoyment of watching. There's plenty else to enjoy too, as Argento and his fellow scriptwriter have managed to create a varied assortment of characters that play well off one another and, of course, there's all the explosions and shootouts that Spaghetti Western fans have come to expect. It does have to be said that there's not as much violence in this film as there is in similar movies, as much of the movie focuses on the train robbery at the end, which is pulled off with very little bloodshed. The acting is decent enough also, with veteran actor Peter Graves heading up a good versatile cast, which fit into their roles well. Ennio Morricone provides another good western score, and overall, this film is always going to be a target for fans of Argento's work. I won't recommend going into the film with high expectations, but it's a fun viewing and I enjoyed it.
The Mexican emissary and former acrobat Luis Dominguez (Nino
Castelnuovo) comes to America to summon the outlaw Mesito (Bud Spencer)
that is working in a farm; the gambler and expert in dynamite Capt.
Nicolas Augustus (James Daly); and the mute Japanese Samurai (Tetsuro
Tamba) that has a great skill with knives under the call of their
acquaintance Dutchman (Peter Graves) from Mexico with the promise of a
reward of one thousand dollar for each one. When the five men reunite,
Dutchman explains that there is a big, fat, juice train transporting
five hundred thousand dollar for the Dictator General Huerta and the
leader of the revolutionary forces proposed them to rob the train to
support the peasants and the revolution. However, the plan seems to be
impossible to be accomplished since the train is protected by an army,
but the five men decide to rob the gold and double-cross the
revolutionaries. But some of them have hidden intentions
"Un Esercito di Cinque Uomini" is a "spaguetti" western at best. The story, with screenplay of Dario Argento, is full of action and betrayals developed in a fast pace and with a great camera work. The result is a funny and entertaining movie, with situations resolved in the most impossible way. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Exército de 5 Homens" ("Five Man Army")
To begin with, this is one of the first films I ever recall watching
my father having acquired a copy on 16mm when I was still a kid!;
needless to say, I've been wanting to re-acquaint myself with it for
several years particularly to see how it stacked up against other
Spaghetti Westerns which, naturally, I came across much later
this, in spite of Leonard Maltin's unflattering rating!
As it turned out, the film lived up to my expectations in being a middle-of-the-road genre effort not one of the best, perhaps, but reasonably entertaining all the same. Incidentally, it forms part of a handful of Spaghetti Westerns with the Mexican Revolution as backdrop; an added attraction to the film, then, is its main plot involving a caper aboard a moving (and heavily-guarded) train it has, in fact, been referred to as a cross between THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960; in view of the select group called upon to aid in a cause) and THE WILD BUNCH (1969; which had a similar robbery as a subplot)!
While the central train sequence involves some notable tension (the elderly dynamite expert loses part of his equipment, the samurai falls off and has to run across a lengthy stretch of fields in order to rejoin his associates), the gang is never shown to be in any serious danger throughout; the final confrontation with the Army, for instance, is nothing at all like the notorious massacre seen in THE WILD BUNCH itself in fact, none of them gets wounded or killed and even the tension within the outfit over whether they should hand over the gold to the revolutionaries or else keep it for themselves is resolved without so much as a punch (rather it's shrugged off with a laugh!).
The multi-national group is played by Americans Peter Graves (well cast in a basic extension of his signature role in the classic MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE TV series) and James Daly (his presence here isn't displeasing yet quite baffling, as he can't have been at all a familiar name to Italians personally, I only knew him from his brief role in PLANET OF THE APES !), Japanese Tetsuro Tamba (who's just as anonymous as Daly perhaps the film's budget could afford only one foreign 'star') and, of course, Italians Bud Spencer (a staple of the genre and, thankfully, resorting only very briefly to his trademark comic brawling) and the youthful Nino Castelnuovo (who, naturally, sides with the Revolution all along). The supporting cast includes another genre contribution from Italian starlet Daniela Giordano (as a Mexican peasant girl who shows interest in samurai Tamba): her lovely presence is always welcome and I still recalled the scene here in which the Army General tears off her clothes from all those years ago! but it's not quite as captivating as in the two other films of hers that I've watched; there's also Giacomo Rossi-Stuart who, for an actor of his stature, is given very little screen-time as a lieutenant to the Mexican General.
Having mentioned the surprise casting, one also has to question the decision behind offering the directorial reins to a minor-league American, former actor Taylor; incidentally, years later, when Giordano was asked by a magazine to comment about the film, she couldn't even recall him being on the set and that co-director Zingarelli handled most of the proceedings! Dario Argento was also behind this film as a scriptwriter which makes the film's tameness all the more curious and, given its derivative nature, perhaps shows his ultimate disenchantment with the Spaghetti Western genre or else he was already thinking of branching out into direction (his debut film, the seminal giallo THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE , was released not long after). THE FIVE MAN ARMY is marked by yet another rousing Ennio Morricone score which is cited by fans as being among his best from this era but, to me, it felt somewhat too similar to his work on Sergio Leone's "Dollars" trilogy!
Finally, I couldn't really determine the running-time of the film since it was interrupted by numerous publicity spots (I watched a VHS recording of a TV broadcast); however, curiously enough, the Italian version is listed as being only 91 minutes long on "Stracult" whereas the edition prepared for U.S. consumption is 107 minutes!
Fantastic film that might shock a few spaghetti western fans. The shock? Peter Graves in a 1970 spaghetti western! Graves is his usual self,great voice,intense and even a bit light hearted at times. Terrence Hill co- hort ,Bud Spencer,a legend in the genre,plays his normal role as a tough but lovable brute of a man. This film is sort of a "Magnificent Seven" but minus two. While the story may be run of the mill,the score by master Ennio Morricone is haunting and will stick with you for as long as you grace this earth. Morricone is one of the few composers that can actually make an average film into a very good one. His music adds so much to the film. The rest of the cast is above average compared to the standard fare of the genre during that time period(early 70's). Overall a very enjoyable film that I would suggest to anyone who wants to sit back and just let their mind and body relax for an hour or two. No one can do westerns like the Italians. I wish that the genre would make a comeback but no matter what..things will never be good as the period from 1964-1974,at least as far as westerns are concerned. Give me a good ole Italian western over the American oater...ANYDAY!
Set during the Mexican Revolution and ruling General Huertas , a
two-fisted man known only as "The Dutchman" has a scheme , to carry out
a huge robbing in a train for the Mexican Army , as he teams up a
motley bunch , including a veteran captain and other three colleagues
to help him out by promising a $1000 reward if it succeeds . The plan
turns out to be a fool's mission : rob a train carrying $500,000 that's
guarded by dozens of heavily armed soldiers . Naturally, his friends
agree to go along with the scheme . They must pull off the dangerous
objective , as Dutchman and the ambitious drifters join forces to rob a
lot of money located into an impregnable train . In the hands of
hardboiled director Don Taylor and a tough-as-leather cast headed by
Peter Graves of ¨Mission : impossible¨ , that's all the plot that's
needed to make one rip-roaring Spaghetti Western flick . Peter Graves
's mission is two-fold and in ¨Dirty dozen¨style : first an unexpected
reunion among ex-colleagues turned into a fighting unit and then turn
them loose on a heavily armored train occupied by Mexican soldiers .
Dutchman brings four of his old acquaintances , his crime-minded
characters include Bud Spencer as a bouncing thief , the old army buddy
(James Daly) expert on explosives , an escaped acrobat (Nino
Castelnuovo) , and a swordsman samurai (Tetsuro Tamba , who acted in ¨
James Bond's You Only Live Twice¨ also playing a Samurai) expert on
daggers . The first half of the film allows the colorful cast of
character actors to have their fun as they get their tails whipped into
shape and develop shaky relationship with their leader . It will be a
long and dangerous mission with continuous risks , as the final part is
all action, as the motley group aboard a train , there wreak havoc ,
passes through a steady stream of military checkpoints and then run for
their lives .
Pretty good S.W. about a relentless and exciting caper set against spectacular scenery of Almeria . The dangerous assignment is set against stark environment , risked railway and hazardous trails . This Western is superior than subsequent Spaghetti entries because it displays stirring adventures, shootouts, riding pursuits , some touches of humor and is pretty amusing . The picture mingles violence , thrills , fights and it's fast moving and for that reason results to be entertaining . This film belongs to the numerous group that are set during the Mexican revolution , called ¨Zapata Western¨ , like are the Italian films : ¨ Duck you sucker¨, ¨The professional¨ ,¨Tetepa¨ , ¨Il Mercenario¨ , ¨Compañeros¨ , ¨What am I doing in middle of the revolution¨ and the American movies : ¨The wild bunch¨, ¨Villa rides ¨, and ¨The professionals¨. There are many fine technicians and nice assistants as the cameraman Enzo Barboni (who subsequently directed Trinity movies : Terence Hill and Bud Spencer) makes an excellent photography with barren outdoors, dirty landscapes under a glimmer sun shot on outskirts of Rome , Lacio , Elios studios and of course Almeria, Spain . And partially shot on ¨Once upon the time the West¨(1968) location as the railroad and the farmhouse . The musician Ennio Morricone creates a classic Spaghetti soundtrack and perfectly conducted by his habitual collaborator Bruno Nicolai.
Well produced by Italo Zingarelli , the famous producer of ¨Trinity series¨ and being well directed by Don Taylor . Don was a notorious secondary actor who sometimes played top roles as in the trend-setting crime drama ¨The naked city¨ (1948) , ¨Battleground¨ and ¨Stalag 17¨. In later years Taylor became a film and TV director, being nominated for an Emmy for his direction of an episode of "Night Gallery" (1969). Taylor met his wife Hazel Court when he directed her in a 1958 episode of "Alfred Hitchcock presents¨ and he went on directing films as the successful ¨The final countdown¨ , ¨Damien , omen 2¨, ¨Escape from Planet of Apes¨ and ¨Island of Doctor Moreau¨, his only Spaghetti Western is this "The Five Man Army¨. Rating : Above average Ravioli Western , it will appeal to Spaghetti aficionados .
I hardly see 60's or 70's western movies but whatever I've seen so far
are gems. The Five Man Army may or may not be a classic but it still
makes for an entertaining watch. The train heist the five men do looks
very unsophisticated but the matter in which they plan and do it is
applause-worthy. Definitely, the best parts of the movie are the entire
train robbery scenes.
Peter Graves as the leader of the five is dashingly handsome and there are few leading Hollywood stars today who look as good as this suave man. Rest of the gang too seem like a perfect fit too. If you substitute actor Tetsuro Tamba for someone else as Samurai, you may not miss much but others like actors James Daly, Bud Spencer & Nino Castelnuovo are bang on fit for their characters.
Good story, action and music - everything required for an old Western potboiler is in here.
Verdict: A feel-good movie. You'll have a nice time.
American actor Don Taylor tries his hand at directing a truly
international "spaghetti western". A fast pace, fine musical score and
satisfactory performances hold this rip-off of "The Magnificent Seven"
and "The Wild Bunch" together over the course of nearly two hours.
"The Dutchman" (Peter Graves) recruits for of his old friends to go on a suicide mission. This involves infiltrating, capturing and then making off with a train filled with Mexican Gold. Each will get a small share; the rest will go to aid the Mexican revolutionary forces that the Dutchman has fallen in with.
Young writer Dario Argento's script doesn't hold up to his later flair, but keeps the familiar characters and plot line interesting enough to hold dedicated attention. The Dutchman is the typical hero of the piece, and Graves comes to life despite the fact that we know nothing about his background. He seems a little uncomfortable somewhat uneasy although his dedication to the robbery is very convincing. He does introduce the 4 members of the "Army" in an obligatory speech, and the rest of the cast stick their characterizations with little or no added ingenuity.
First, there's Augustus (James Daly), a grizzled demolition expert who's been in hiding since Spanish-American War. Augustus and Dutchman are two tired, old men and they have a great dramatic discussion reflecting the changing of the times and how they no longer fit into society. Bud Spencer is a lot of fun as the dimwitted Mesito, a giant whose sole redeeming quality seems to be his brute strength. Interestingly enough, Spencer recorded his own dialog in English, and his real voice simply adds to the humor his character he's got a thick accent, but good command of English, which balances out perfectly. Then there's Samurai (Tetsuro Tamba) a silent warrior who was rescued from a circus sideshow to help carry out the mission. Rounding out the band is Luis, a former acrobat-turned-outlaw who found a home in the Revolution while on the run from the Mexican Army. Throughout the piece, the heroes are out to satisfy their own greed, but a surprise ending ties together all of the loose ends.
The musical score of this piece is above-average work from the always-excellent Ennio Morricone, who contributed scores for some of the best spaghetti westerns, including "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". It's appropriately rousing and adds flair to the exciting moments, and occasional mournful and evocative in the slower, sad sequences notably, Dutchman's moving speech near the end which explains just why he's in league with the Revolution. He also contributes a fine extended, ultra-weird piece when one main character falls from the train and has to run for several minutes to catch up with his comrades.
The film never has a boring moment. Taylor keeps his camera moving in every scene, always showing off sagebrush, pueblos and military garrisons which always look and feel real. The movie is about men on the go it never stays in one location very long, and while there, something exciting is always happening. Every piece of dialog helps to flesh out the characters or explain the mission further. When people aren't talking, they're in an intense situation whether it be the ambush of a Mexican truck, escape from a military prison, or the lengthy takeover of the train (which, perhaps, is one of the best extended action sequences ever caught on film) there is never a dull moment.
Taylor manages to keep the action interesting enough and different enough in each scene, too there's not just lots of fast gun-play going on. There is one notable capture-and-escape sequence involving a heavily fortified Mexican garrison, and the 20+ minute sequence depicting the infiltration and capture of the armored train is nail-biting. The stunts look to be performed by the real actors on a moving train there is no rear-projection here.
The production values are higher than usual for this genre. The crowd scenes are truly massive, and Taylor is able to take time establishing his locations using cranes and long pans before jumping right into the action. Although the first half of the film has a dry, depressing look to it (the exteriors are barren and desolate) the second half features several large, open grassy plains something not often seen in a film of this kind. The territory surrounding the train, especially, looks vast and open only once do we notice the painfully obvious presence of a sound-stage, as the characters observe the train from a distance.
There are a lot of little things that go wrong with the production or some small parts of the film which lack badly needed care, however, which hamper the effectiveness of the proceedings. The second unit direction seems a bit half-hearted. When extras are shot and die, they slump over with considerable effort and never really look to have been shot. There are also noticeable gaps in logic the heroes board the train in full view of some very unobservant Mexican guards; the main characters seem afraid of a giant cannon on the train, but it's not as though it can fire at them at such a close range. Also, the engineer (Jose Torres) is taken prisoner because he's allied with the military government, but near the climax, his character disappears. One moment he is standing on the train; in the next shot he is simply gone. What happened to him? In the end, "The Five Man Army" is no more than merely a hash of clichés, but manages to be engaging and entertaining throughout without offering anything new and notable.
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