In Mexico at the time of the Revolution, Juan, the leader of a bandit family, meets John Mallory, an IRA explosives expert on the run from the British. Seeing John's skill with explosives, Juan decides to persuade him to join the bandits in a raid on the great bank of Mesa Verde. John in the meantime has made contact with the revolutionaries, and intends to use his dynamite in their service. Written by
I was lucky enough to see a newly struck print of a two and a half hour version of this film just yesterday, an immaculate print, as part of a Leone film retrospective here in Austin TX. I will not give a synopsis of the plot; what's important to note is that all the Leone hallmarks are there -- brilliant production design and camera work, carefully structured narrative, epic scale -- and some of the strangest music ever created by Mr. Morricone. The leads seem miscast, particularly Rod Steiger as the accidental Mexican revolutionary, but he gives an energetic performance that the film can hang its rather large weight upon.
I saw 'Good, Bad...' and '...West' immediately before I saw this picture and it is very much from the same cloth and in the same league as those two films -- more comic, a bit flawed and crude perhaps; but really it's evidence of an artist working on a grand scale and well worth your time.
If you consider yourself a fan of Mr. Leone's, do give MGM an email and demand the DVD release of this neglected, fascinating movie
Hopefully this picture will get the home video release it deserves. The VHS version of this film is much shorter and far more confusing -- a typical case of a long movie's being shortened in hopes that it will do better business, and being ruined in the process.
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