The DVD I've ordered features the film (Il Pistolero dell'Ave Maria) in its original Italian language. Some aspects of the story may have been changed in the English language version.
I will tell you just the very beginning of the story. I only want to give you a taste of the film. There will be no real spoilers (I think).
A lone rider going through a canyon. Up on the cliffs horsemen watching him. Close-ups of their faces, hands ready for action. The scene is enhanced by a hauntingly beautiful score.
The rider is Rafael (Pietro Martellanza). As a boy he had worked in a hacienda in Mexico. The owner of the hacienda was absent fighting against the french. For those that have no knowledge of the history of Mexico, very simplistically told, the french had invaded Mexico in 1861 and installed Maximilian of Habsburg in power. He became the emperor of Mexico! The french rule lasted until 1867, when the Mexicans led by Benito Juarez, expelled the french and shot the Emperor. Crazy, ain't it?
Coming back to the film, Rafael worked in this hacienda that belonged to the Carrasco Family. The patriarch and owner of the hacienda, General Juan Carrasco, was absent fighting against the french. Rafael was the best friend of his (the general's) son Sebastian (Leonard Mann), and loved and was loved by Sebastian's sister, Isabella (Pilar Velazquez). Children, the three of them. But while General Carrasco was away fighting the french, his wife Ana (Luciana Paluzzi) was having an affair with the hacienda's foreman, Tomas (Alberto de Mendoza). After the french had been defeated, General Carrasco returns home and is received in high style by everyone in the hacienda. A party is held to commemorate his return. Suddenly... betrayal and tragedy.
The characters are scattered to the four winds. Years pass and the dust seems to have settled down, but a chance meeting will rekindle old memories. The day of reckoning has arrived.
This story almost seems a Mexican melodrama, but it's filmed with a grandeur and style that's unique. The party that is held in homage to General Carrasco, when he returns from the war, with its dancing, singing and eating, is flamboyantly portrayed. The same holds true for the scene in which a character enters a small Mexican village where a celebration is taking place in the streets ... firecrackers, people laughing, singing ... Then the saloon, with wild and beautiful women dancing barefoot on the counter... Ferdinando Baldi is very skilled in telling a story by way of images - editing, framing, close-ups, music ... everything adds up to create the right atmosphere and the proper emotion. It's true that sometimes he goes overboard, as he proved with the completely over-the-top film's ending, that's so operatic, so melodramatic, as to put even the wildest Mexican melodramas to shame.
A good, well-told story featuring beautiful women (Luciana Paluzzi, Pilar Velazques and many others), sunny, dry landscapes, and a wonderful soundtrack. I didn't like so much the ending, though, with its fire and brimstones conclusion, but this is a matter of taste. Highly recommended if you like your spaghetti hot and wild.
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