So it's 1972 and you've decided to make a serious drama about the tragic plight of the American Indians and the complex, tit for tat relationship that unfurled between them and the white settlers. Indians fighting back against the loss of their lands, whites retaliating against the attacks on their farms and families. This story will try and show both sides and be soundly based in the moral dilemma faced by its protagonists, struggling between loyalty to their people and a desire to form a lasting peace. You need a strong leading man. Someone who can embody the noble savage and carry the weight of this story's dramatic depths. Clearly there is but one man for the job. One man whose acting chops are big enough to carry the whole thing off. That's right. Jeff Cameron.
Get Cameron on board and you guarantee the project the full range of facial expressions that will say more than any cheaply thrown together dialogue ever could. Facial expressions such as this:
Or even this:
And so Al di là dell'odio was born and with the benefit of a budget that must have been easily in excess of 12 lire we are also treated to lavish set design such as this magnificent Indian village. Just check out those fabulous Teepees.
Apparently, Apaches not only lived in Teepees they lived in Teepees that were not actually big enough to lie down in. Who knew?
But enough of the sarcasm. Its a cheap Indian picture where Jeff Cameron is by far the biggest name. What can you expect? The biggest surprise for me is that they even tried to make it at all. Not only is the subject matter quite out of kilter with most Italian made westerns (no bounty killers or Mexican bandits here) it is also almost impossible to pull off with the lack of budget it was clearly always going to suffer from. Enter stage two of my screen shot gallery.
With everything clearly shot in Italy with a cast of tens rather than thousands how was the director going to show the majesty of the land his Indian hero was fighting for or the scale of a pitched battle between the tribe and the U.S Cavalry? The answer is obvious. Splice in footage from someone else's film where required. Someone whose film has a much better budget, whose locations have a much more dramatic scale than this:
Let's say something more akin to this:
Well, once you've started using someone else's footage why stop there. Let's make use of their pyrotechnics while we're at it:
And then there's that cool scene with the snakes in the valley. Surely we can re jig the script to work that in:
At which point you lose sight of where the line is between reasonable misappropriation of stock footage and criminal over use of someone else's film. But the question is, which film? The landscape and Indian hoards give a pretty solid clue but Santini's greed for another director's footage means that we have some even clearer indications. Very early on I thought these two fellahs looked familiar:
Not the clearest screen shot I know but I bet you recognise them anyway.
And, although this is supposed to be Jeff Cameron, the costume and wig pretty clearly give it away as being someone a little more well known in a noble savage role:
Yes, clearly the plundered film is from the Winnetou series but I'm not actually sure which one. I've seen a handful of them but not all and I don't think I've seen this particular entry. However, judging from the synopses I've read my guess is this all comes from Winnetou and Shatterhand in the Valley of Death. If anyone here has seen it perhaps you could confirm?
It seems fitting to add the Winnetou film's database page link here too. After all, it makes up a fair percentage of Santini's 'work'. ;D