My Name Is Nobody (1973)
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The score by Ennio Morricone is outstanding.
The premise of the story is that Fonda, Jack Beauregard, wants to retire. He even has a berth on the ship "Sundowner," destination Australia, reserved. "Nobody," Hill, wants Beauregard to go out in style.... so he creates a showdown with the Wild Bunch: one man against 150 of the meanest SOBs in the West. The resolution of this conflict is.... interesting. ^_^
The principle asset of the film is Henry Fonda, who seems to approach his role as the most graceful bow-out of his career as a leading-man in the cowboy genre.
The principle liability of the film is Terrence Hill, still dressed as Trinity, the cowboy bum of the My Name is Trinity comedies. I never understood the charm this actor has, since he seems to lack any depth, and can't even convince us that he's a "ne'er-do-well" - he just seems to be an actor playing a ne'er-do-well.
Fortunately, this film isn't written or directed by the "Trinity" crew; indeed, a major historical interest in the film revolves around exactly how much of it may have been written and directed by the great grand-daddy of Italian Western directors, Sergio Leone - a question which appears to be unresolved after considerable debate and research.
Well, perhaps that's not so important. Certainly Leone, as producer, managed to get the production of this film the resources it needed to achieve a truly professional polish - absolutely necessary for the rich imagery to provide the rather absurd plot a necessary credibility.
Insofar as the comedy depends an whole lot on Terrence Hill, I don't find it all that laugh-out-loud funny; but I do admit admiration for it's whimsical approach to material that could easily have produced a heavy-handed satire. instead, we get a light-hearted fantasy about the end of the cowboy film genre altogether - because certainly this film could never have been made in the era when audiences took cowboy movies seriously.
No, this is farewell to the genre - but not the brooding lament that we find in Leone's acknowledged classic, Once Upon a Time in the West. This is farewell-with-a-smile - "and don't forget to write!"
Albeit the film itself is a parody of other westerns, of 'C'era una volta il West' and/or 'The wild bunch' for example, and therefore should be (and is in fact) comical and funny, one nevertheless hears a slightly melancholy song sung by/about Odysseus(= Nobody) who had forgotten his homeland. Owing to that (please let me dare say)'depth', 'Il mio nome e nessuno' succeeded in being far more than a simple parody and in appealing not only to 'genre fans' but also to 'general' movie lovers: Fonda's brilliant performance, Fonda and Terence Hill's unique combination, Morricone's perfect score. It's all really tasty.
I still remember that a Japanese film critic at that time has rated this film low, because 'it was a spaghetti western made by an assistant of Sergio Leone'. But when I myself saw the film later, I (please excuse me for being cheeky and cocky) doubted his eye of a film critic: Why hasn't he seen that this film clearly stood out from other Italian westerns? Why has he ignored the fact that Tonino Valerii could make excellent westerns without Leone and without Morricone? (I of course mean 'Il prezzo del potere' and 'I giorni dell'ira'.)
- All that gunslinger Jack Beauregard (Henry Fonda) wants to do is retire while he's still alive. But Nobody (Terence Hill) wants to see Beauregard go out in blaze of glory. Nobody dogs him across the West insisting that if Beauregard will just face one more enemy, he's sure to go down in the annals of history. But Nobody's idea is for Beauregard to have it out with the 150 man strong Wild Bunch - all alone.
- The shortest and most to the point description that I can come up with for this movie is "Sergio Leone Meets the Three Stooges". On the one hand, you've got Henry Fonda in the traditional Western role (albeit Spaghetti Western). On the other hand, you've got Terence Hill performing some of the best slapstick and pantomime since the era of the silent film. It sounds like an unlikely combination, but Valerii successfully marries the two styles into a very enjoyable experience. The scenes with Fonda and Hill together are as good as you'll see in a Spaghetti Western.
- While some of Hill's comedy seems goofy and doesn't work that well, most of it is very funny. There are moments of pure genius. The shooting scene in the saloon is a particular favorite of mine.
- Morricone's score is amazing. He draws inspiration from and pays homage to some of the earlier scores he did. I was reminded several times of Once Upon a Time in the West, the Dollars Trilogy, and other Spaghetti Westerns. Writing positive comments on a Morricone score is becoming a bit redundant. Did he ever write a score that you could call bad?
- For those of us who have only seen My Name is Nobody on VHS with bad transfers and missing footage, the new Image DVD is a real treat. It was a lot like watching the movie for the first time. I never thought this movie could look so good. My only complaint is the lack of extras. The disc doesn't even have a trailer.
I have now seen 'My name is nobody' some ten times and for me it's the best film I've ever seen, mostly because of the fact that there is a perfect mix between humor and western, together with a perfect soundtrack and a very good picture of the West and its landscapes.
As I child I loved Terence Hill/ Bud Spencer, and especially Hill's solo western films. It's really funny, though not too short, and has some unforgettable moments (my favourite: Hill and the guy from the locomotive taking a piss - at least trying to...). It reminds very strongly of the work of Sergio Leone (who is mentioned in the opening credits) with it's look, characters and of course the music. The title track won't leave your ear quite soon, I promise! Henry Fonda is also very good in this, playing the tired hero very convincing and effectively.
I enjoy watching it everytime, so I can recommend it warmly! Avoid the second one, though, it's not as near as charming as this one!