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Bit of a disappointment this one, although it was always bound to be too good to be true.
Just think of it! A spaghetti western directed by the great Damiano Damini (A Bullet for the General) and the greater Sergio Leoni, starring legendary actors Patrick McGoohan and Klaus Kinski, with music by Ennio Morriconne. How could it go wrong?
Well let's start...
The opening sequence at least (directed by Leone) is brilliant and promises a terrific film. A promise that is not kept. The sequence has little or no bearing on the rest of the film, an action comedy about the conning of a racist cavalry Major (McGoohan) out of three hundred thousand dollars and the love triangle between the three con-artists, led by Terence Hill.
There seems to be something about most Italian comedy that simply doesn't work when playing to a British or American audience and here it is the same. Most of the film is buffoonery that falls flat, made increasingly worse by the decision to give most of the co-stars silly voices in the dubbing room. Klaus Kinski comes off the worst in his tiny cameo, looking great, out-acting everyone on the screen, but sounding like an ancient hillbilly. Miou-Miou's squeaky toddler voice is unbearable.
McGoohan too sounds bizarre, somewhere between an English toff and WC Fields (all the stranger still, because the voice is actually his).
The music tends towards the comical of course, and as such is not in Morricone's best work.
However, there are some diamonds among the rough. McGoohan's performance is great, in spite of the voice.Terence Hill makes a fairly engaging lead, whose description of a duel is a classic moment for spaghetti westerns. The climax too, an energetic chase, accompanied to Morriconne's reworking of Beethoven's Fur Elise, ending with a tremendous explosion that leaves McGoohan covered in white dust atop his horse like an imposing alabaster statue (worth the admission price alone) is evidence that there is some real talent at work here.
In a perfect world, A Genius would be the very best of the spaghetti westerns. As it stands, it is a failure that I'm very pleased to have seen.
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