A gunfighter contends with a pacifist sheriff, a seductive banker, a one-armed Mexican bandit, corrupt businessmen and hippies while trying to learn the secret of the money allegedly stolen by his lynched brother.
While a Mexican revolutionary lies low as a U.S. rodeo clown, the cynical Polish mercenary who tutored the idealistic peasant tells how he and a dedicated female radical fought for the soul of the guerrilla general Paco, as Mexicans threw off repressive government and all-powerful landowners in the 1910s. Tracked by the vengeful Curly, Paco liberates villages, but is tempted by social banditry's treasures, which Kowalski revels in.Written by
Because he was contractually obliged to provide his voice for the English version, Franco Nero was initially cast as Paco Roman. James Coburn was hired for the role of the mercenary (who was originally intended to be an American) based on his role in Our Man Flint (1966), but eventually dropped out of the role due to disagreements as to whether he or Nero would be top-billed. Coburn's role was rewritten as Polish so that Nero could portray the character with an accent. Tony Musante was cast as Paco after Nero saw him in The Incident (1967). See more »
A plane is used to bomb Paco's fort. However planes did not begin to drop bombs until the late stages of WWI, in which they were dropped by hand. See more »
Kowalski aka the Pole:
So, Paco Roman is a clown. Well, better a live clown than a dead hero. As I, Sergei Kowalski, Polish emigrate to the New World, always realised...
[fade-in to flashback of Paco working in a mine]
Kowalski aka the Pole:
When our story began, Paco was only a peon. But one... with a difference.
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Last week, I came across a sale of Italian DVDs of several Spaghetti Westerns; I managed to purchase 4 of them and, being one of 2 I hadn't watched before, this ended up as the first I checked out.
Actually, I had missed this on late-night Italian TV; considering that a similar 'political' Spaghetti Western directed by Corbucci and co-starring Franco Nero and Jack Palance, namely COMPANEROS (1970), had been a bit too much tongue-in-cheek for my taste, I expected this to be in the same vein. However, while certainly lighthearted in comparison with Corbucci's DJANGO (1966; which I should revisit again in a couple of days) and especially THE GREAT SILENCE (1968), it's a more balanced proposition than COMPANEROS (particularly with respect to Palance's performance - quietly menacing here as opposed to the campiness of the later film) and, thus, superior to it in practically every way.
Nero has already matured quite a bit from the youthful gunslinger in DJANGO; here, he's basically playing a variation on Clint Eastwood's iconic Man With No Name figure in Sergio Leone's "Dollars Trilogy" (incidentally, Nero's own voice resembles that of Enrico Maria Salerno - who used to dub Eastwood in those films!). Indeed, the ongoing game of cat-and-mouse revolving around Nero, Palance and Mexican revolutionary Tony Musante is clearly inspired by the tricky relationship that went on between Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef in THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966)! This is most evident in the numerous scenes where the taciturn Nero gets the brash Musante out of trouble or, conversely, 'sells' him to the authorities...and even more in the rather splendid showdown between the three characters, undoubtedly the film's highlight - given another dimension by being set in a bullring with Palance sporting a wig (he's nicknamed Curly!) and Musante made up as a clown!!
Despite her belated entrance in the film, Giovanna Ralli makes quite an impression as a fiery Mexican woman who hitches up with Musante; Euro-Cult and Spaghetti Western regular Eduardo Fajardo is also on hand as the requisite figure of oppression (who, at one point, is made to eat a living lizard by Musante!). While the comedy never quite descends into spoofiness and the political content is thankfully downplayed, the action sequences are very well handled...and the film is further blessed with a memorable theme tune by the one and only Ennio Morricone (with a little help from his friend and protégé Bruno Nicolai).
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