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As someone who saw many Italian westerns theatrically in the late 60s and early 70s, I could feel the genre dying out as there were more spaghetti western comedies released and more films that introduced weirdness for weirdness' sake. SOMETIMES LIFE IS HARD, EH PROVIDENCE is an episodic Italian western comedy, with the amazing chameleon actor Tomas Milian as an eccentric foppish man in a bowler hat, named PROVIDENCE. He has a partner named Hurricane Smith, played by veteran film and TV actor Gregg Palmer. At first, their relationship is reminiscent of Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach in THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY, as they turn each other in for rewards and Milian pulls Palmer behind him on a rope. As the film's picaresque adventures continue, they encounter and attempt to con various other characters, they get put in jail, they escape, they make a lot of money, they lose a lot of money, etc. There are a lot of funny sequences here, and the two stars do a wonderful job and have a great chemistry, but the film was a little too episodic for me and it didn't seem like it was headed anywhere in particular. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood (I saw it first about ten years ago, and just recently watched it again). There was a sequel made a year later with the same stars, but a different director. I'll watch it again sometime soon to see if it's much different from this. Perhaps a nicely transferred DVD widescreen edition could revise my view of this film. Overall, it's recommended to Milian fans and to fans of "mismatched buddy" films (I was reminded, in a strange way, of the Jackie Chan-Owen Wilson films, and the Jackie Chan-Chris Tucker films, and of course the Trinity films, although for me the PROVIDENCE films are more interesting and creative than the Trinity films). Director Guilio Petroni had previously worked with Milian on the underrated BLOOD AND GUNS (released in the US on VHS and probably easy to find), and of course is best known for the great DEATH RIDES A HORSE, also widely available on VHS. Also worth mentioning are the Three Stooges-style slapstick sound effects and an over-the-top score by Ennio Morricone with what sounds like a children's chorus singing odes to "Provvidenza". SOMETIMES LIFE IS HARD, EH PROVIDENCE certainly has a lot of odd and interesting elements in it, thrown together into a unique mix. While I may sound somewhat critical of it, it's a hard film to dislike.
It is fair to say that Tomas Milan is one of the all time great
Spaghetti Western stars (grasping frantically at the poncho of
Eastwood, Cleef and Nero). And it is in such good faith that I got my
hands on a copy of this movie.
And after watching it, it is fair to say that you could call me confused! Sometimes shockingly bad, othertimes really great fun, I couldn't make up my mind whether it had been 90 minutes well spent or an evening wasted. I think I'll opt for well spent. Just.
Certainly, it is not your average spaghetti western, with Milan a Charlie Chaplin-esq bounty hunter, with a bungling "chunky" sidekick. The character play is a passenger on the Trinity bandwagon, but with an even greater level of stupidity. The Big Gundown it certainly isn't! Nor is it in any way reminiscent of Director Petroni's classic Death Rides a Horse.
The story is not so much one story, as a number of episodes with a very loose link. Thankfully, the strong cast pulls it off, and although I nearly pressed eject several times I did see it through to the end. And was it worth it? Hmmmmm, I just can't seem to make up my mind. But I bet I watch the sequel!
This is a very funny Italian western! The characters are very amusing especially Tomas Milian who gives us a beautiful interpretation of a funny sort of bounty killer called "Provvidenza". This movie will make you laugh a lot without be vulgar or foregone. Least but not last the nice soundtrack by Ennio Morricone will remain stamped in your mind!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Death Rides A Horse" director Giulio Petroni's "Life Is Tough, Eh Providence?" is a slapstick Spaghetti western comedy that is nothing like his other westerns. Genre stalwart Tomas Milian plays a mustached bounty hunter named Providence. He wears his derby so low that it crimps his ears with comic results. He speaks with a weird nasal lisp and looks incredibly buffoonish in his suit and tie with gloves. He travels around in a modified Wells Fargo stagecoach. Paunchy American character actor Greg Palmer co-stars with Milian in his silly frontier saga. He plays a thick-headed outlaw called the Hurricane Kid. Six scenarists, including Franco Castellano, Günter Ebert, Antonino Marino, Giuseppe Moccia, Antoinette Pellevant , and Piero Regnoli, along with Petroni himself have fashioned a lowest common denominator comedy not unlike the "Trinity" movies. Palmer makes a perfect Bud Spencer type, while Milian hams it up as an umbrella-toting bounty hunter who wields a derringer with a deadly accurate aim. When they are playing everything for laughs, the filmmakers appropriate the plot from Leone's "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" as Providence brings Hurricane in for the reward money and then engineers Hurricane's subsequent escape so they can pull the same stunt again. "Life Is Tough, Eh Providence?" appears to have been lensed in Italy rather than Spain since we never see any of those distinctive Spanish mountains. In other words, most everything looks green. Tomas Milian is nothing like you've ever seen him in a Spaghetti western. Incredibly, this unprepossessing oater boasts a musical score performed by Ennio Morricone. There are some interesting gags, especially the game of pool. Difficult as it is to believe this farce actually spawned a sequel the following year entitled "Here We Go Again, Eh Providence?" Milian and Palmer both reprised their roles. Italian tough guy stunt man Giovanni Cianfriglia plays a card-sharp thug who is roundly trounced in that hilarious pool tournament with Providence. Mind you, only fans of the Marx Brothers will appreciate a gag about tw0-third of the way through the film that is a variation on a Frank Tashlin gag from "A Night in Casablanca." Harpo is leaning against a building when a French policeman asks him if he (Harpo) thinks that he is holding up the building. Harpo nods with an impish grin, steps away from the building and the edifice collapses. Hurricane is leaning against a tree when Providence asks him a similar question. Hurricane steps away from the tree and it keels over and hits the ground. Altogether, "Life Is Tough, Eh Providence?" shows not only Tomas Milian in a different light but also director Giulio Petroni in an entirely different light. "Death Rides A Horse" and "Tepepa" (which also starred Milian) were serious, violent oaters, whereas "Life Is Tough, Eh Providence?" is as light-hearted as it is light-headed. As Italian horse operas go, this nimble farce has its moments, but only Spaghetti western completists will want to sit through it. American Spaghetti western fans can find this movie on an 8-pack from Echo Bridge Entertainment entitled simply Spaghetti westerns.
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