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Peter Graham Scott
Nyree Dawn Porter,
In 1895, in a small town ravaged by the Mexican Revolution, the revolutionary leader Aguila and his men massacre the town's locals and the military garrison soldiers.Ten years later Aguila,now a reformed priest, sees a newly-arrived woman who is looking for those responsible for murdering her husband. The town is run by the corrupt Don Carlos who promises to help Alvira find those who killed her husband,in return for the gold reward Alvira is offering. Don Carlos has no idea where Aguila is or what Aguila looks like but he's prepared to do anything in order to collect the gold reward offered by Alvira. Everything is complicated by the sudden arrival of the Mexican Army led by a brutal Colonel whose face looks very familiar to the town priest. Written by
This star-studded British/Spanish co-production looks great, what you can see of it. I have three versions, two VHS, one DVD, and all are terribly cropped, so badly that it looks as if buildings are having conversations with each other. Few films suffer as badly from pan and scan as this one, as director Robert Parrish seems to have been so enamored with the widescreen process that he tended to use both sides of the screen at once, neglecting the middle. Another user comments that we see the entire inhabitants of a church massacred at the beginning; not in any of the copies I have. There are some abrupt cuts of peasants firing their rifles, one Mexican officer is shot, Shaw and Landau celebrating, and that's it. We never find out why Shaw has become a priest (if he really is), we never find out what happens to Don Carlos (Savalas) although I suspect he was called home to star in Kojak, as his departure seems arbitrary. And there is a strange flashback sequence where Michael Craig (Mysterious Island) is dancing around in a bowler hat and bad suit in the great old English music hall tradition to the 1960 hit BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS, not sung by Johnny Horton here but with some lyrics I've never heard before. On the plus side, the location is great, a huge old ruined fortress with Escher-style stairs leading nowhere, some nice scenery-chewing by Robert Shaw, and good performances by Stevens, Landau, Lettieri, and Telly Savalas as Telly Savalas. I didn't really like this film, but I haven't exactly seen it. I will seek the widescreen version and make my decision then.
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