As always, I’ll share my write up of this week’s viewing with you all :
“A Stranger in Town” is the first of Tony Anthony’s “Stranger” films - a character heavily borrowed from Eastwood/Leone’s “Man With No Name”. As I understand it, the aim of these films was to take the European vision of a western to a wider American audience. Which it successfully achieved.
The Stranger (Anthony) arrives in town to witness a brutal massacre of Mexican soldiers by a gang of bandits led by Aguila (Frank Wolff). Before the execution, Aguila assures the soldiers that he is “a fair man” - a regularly uttered pronouncement throughout the film. The death of so many men demonstrates otherwise.
The Stranger agrees to work with the bandits, who are now clad in the soldiers uniforms, to help steal gold from the US army. The plan is successful, but the Stranger is soon double-crossed once he arrives to collect his 50% share (despite Aguila being “a fair man”). After a beating, he escapes with the gold, and is pursued by the gang…
Whilst there are obvious similarities between this movie and the Dollars Trilogy - in particular a Fistful of Dollars - this is an enjoyable film in its own right. It lacks the class of Leone, and the cool of Eastwood, but Anthony and Director Luigi Vanzi never tried to mimic these aspects, concentrating instead on the action and violence. Indeed, Anthony’s Stranger never appears invincible, and remains likable throughout what is a very simplistic story.
The star of the show however is Frank Wolff - a man that does not know the meaning of a bad performance. Based largely on Volente’s Ramon, Aguila is equally as barbaric, but just a little more clumsy. And “a fair man!”. Of course!
There is very little dialogue in the whole movie, playing on the clichÃ© of what we (or I imagine, more realistically, what the general American audience of that time) expect from a Spaghetti Western. Quite intentionally. The fact that there are few words puts great pressure on the quality of Benedetto Ghiglia’s score - which thankfully stands up to this task.
All in all, A Stranger in Town makes up for what it lacks in class and story with entertaining characters and good fight sequences. The beginning sequence where the Mexican soldiers are led into town by a group of singing monks - who soon cast off their robes and reveal themselves as Aguila and his gang - immediately persuades the viewer that this will be an enjoyable film. The final confrontation between the two main stars is equally as effective.
It is not (and doesn’t pretend to be) one of the greatest Spaghetti Westerns. In fact, Aguila would probably proclaim it as a “fair” film. And this time he wouldn’t be lying. Good fun, and recommended.
(If you’ve seen it, please feel free to vote for it at the poll at http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/spaghettiwesterns/reviews/astrangerintown.html )