William Shatner plays two roles: cowboy Johnny Moon and his ruthless Indian twin brother, Notah. Notah likes peyote and gets the crazy idea that he's the Comanche messiah sent to lead the Comanche nation against the white man but more specifically the dusty desert town of Rio Hondo. Moon, estranged from his brother, decides to stop Notah either by words or by bullets.Written by
Being a Spanish rather than Italian production, I don't think this rates as an official Spaghetti Western yet, it's been included with a clutch of such efforts in a budget-release Box Set (which I've rented and am currently going through); the treatment itself, in fact, isn't even really evocative of that distinctly baroque style!
The film-makers managed to acquire two American stars for this one: veteran Joseph Cotten and William Shatner (a fashionable commodity at the time thanks to the STAR TREK phenomenon on TV); they actually complement each other quite well, the reliable Cotten being a laid-back yet plain-speaking marshal and Shatner brooding albeit given occasionally to his trademark histrionics especially since he plays twins, i.e. cowboy hero and the troublesome half-breed of the title!
The narrative also incorporates a subplot involving rival factions fighting for control of the town of Rio Hondo; female interest is provided by lovely blonde Rosanna Yanni (co-star of the two "Red Lips" films by Jess Franco made the previous year), who's assaulted by one Shatner and loved by the other. Eventually, the two siblings face-off in a duel on horseback which both undertake bare-chested and wearing a bandana (presumably, to confuse the audience as to the identity of the victor)! At the end of the day, the film proves a tolerable diversion if nothing more unless one counts Shatner's almost campy intensity (particularly in his caricatured Indian portrayal) as an added source of gratification! I should also mention here that the terribly inappropriate jazzy score is a pain to listen to and, besides, the pan-and-scan version I watched had an irritating tendency to jump-cutting within the same shot in search of the current speaker's face!!
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