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Joseph M. Newman
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Travelling actor and gunman Joe Clifford inherits a gold mine from his uncle. Returning to claim the mine, he finds town boss Berg, his uncle's murderer, controls it instead. Clifford sets about avenging his uncle, recovering the mine and freeing the town from Berg using both shooting and thespian skills Written by
Tom Seldon <email@example.com>
This is one of the finest examples of the post-1970 "later period" Spaghetti Western, a particularly interesting period of the genre defined by ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST's effect of finally proving that a truly great John Ford era Oater could in fact be made by & with primarily Europeans. Pepper in some name brand American faces to ensure good box office and Sergio Leone and company could blow away anything coming out of the states at the same time, aside from Peckinpah.
It seems as though the success of Leone's movie served to liberate the genre, and between 1970 and 1974 or so there were scores of extremely low budget Spaghetti's made right at home in Italy, no need to even traipse to Spain for exteriors. Nobody was really counting the gaffes anymore and as such directors could pull out all the stops and go for broke without sweating issues like authenticity. Some went for the action, some for the comedy, some for the sex, and some even worked in some decent film-making along the way.
So with nothing to prove except to show how these movies could be done by someone with a brain, Leopoldo Savona gathered two of the genre's biggest names -- frequent co-stars Anthony Steffen and the insane Eduardo Fajardo -- equipped them with costumes, props, a script and a supporting cast of familiar faces, and basically turned them loose, essentially choreographing a huge, violent, colorful cartoon for grown-ups with some of the wildest gunfights ever staged. Throw in a characteristically airy Bruno Nicolai soundtrack and you are talking a minor masterpiece.
Critics of the genre might find it to be predictable and imitative of other examples. Fans will be delighted by how the film touches on pretty much all of the important elements that made Spaghetti such a special kind of entertainment, and still manages to come up with some new angles. Anthony Steffen is in peak form as Joe Clifford, who like Gianni Garko's Sartana character is something of an artiste & con man, as often as not thinking his way out of a jam in addition to using his fists and pistol to enforce frontier justice without a badge. And Eduardo Fajardo was able to cultivate a slavering, convincing villain just as despicable as his Major Jackson character from DJANGO. The only one who can stop him is Steffen, and their showdown is one of the great unseen climaxes to an example of the genre that is so much better than it probably had to be.
9/10; Not to be missed!!
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