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After bandits steal his poker winnings this American legend makes his way to the next town in search of them. Seeking out his revenge during a poker game gone bad Doc West finds himself in the local town jail. When his past is exposed and a battle amongst the town breaks out in gunfire he will have to choose sides, between the outlaws or the law-abiding citizens. Written by
This review is based on the U.S. DVD release of Doc West, which was originally a 2 episode program for television somewhere outside the U.S. (Italy I presume, though the film is made in English). The DVD running time is shorter than the time listed for the TV miniseries, and judging be the continuity it's safe to say it's the first episode rather than a re-editing of both episodes into a single film (as sometime happens). As such the first episode does work well as a stand alone film.
The plot of Doc West is simplicity itself, stranger rides into town and becomes involved in the affairs of it's populace. As this has been done at least one or two times before, it always comes down to the handling of the material that makes or breaks such films. Fortunately star and director Terence Hill does a admirable job with the formula and proves himself a capable director. Anyone expecting the gritty feel of The Wild Bunch or nihilistic tone of Deadwood will be severely disappointed. Rather Doc West is a throwback to the clean cut family oriented westerns of old. Characters perhaps lack great depth but remain interesting, the outdoor scenery is captured well, the cast is good, and the script is nicely written. Paul Sorvino in a nice change of pace from his usual mafia roles, stars as the town's amiable sheriff.
This film marks the long awaited return of Terence Hill (real name Mario Girotti) to the western genre. In the early seventies, Hill starred in the Italian western action comedies "My name Is Trinity" and it's sequel "Trinity Is Still My Name" (both films far superior to Blazing Saddles, Support Your Local Sheriff, or anything similar imho). Legendary director Sergio Leone was fond of the Trinity character and decided to use him in a film, albeit in a somewhat more serious manner. As a result Leone cast Hill in the film "My Name Is Nobody". These early films were dubbed in English, though the voice work for Hill's characters is surprisingly similar to his own real voice (which has only a bit of an accent). Hill's last western film was "Troublemakers" (a.k.a. The Fight Before Christmas) with Trinity co-star Bud Spencer. Today the actor has aged quite well and looks in fine physical shape, evidenced by his ability to wear his wardrobe from "My Name Is Nobody" for this latest film. Doc West is perhaps a more mature version of the whimsical Trinity character. This film is not the best western of the last 10 years, but it is certainly entertaining and Terence Hill's long overdue return to the western is warmly welcome. Hopefully the second episode of Doc West will be released on domestic DVD soon and it won't be too long before Hill dons the iconic cowboy duster once again.
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