One of the very last SW along with Keoma and Mannaja. Is it as good? Read on to find out.
California/Michael Random (Giuliano Gemma) and several other Ex-Confederate soldiers are being decommissioned and given a chance to get on with their lives now that that U.S. Civil War is over. Willy Preston (Miguel Bose) an ex-officer tries to befriend California but he seems aloof. This does nothing to dampen the spirits of Willy even if the weather is a downpour. While waiting for weather to let up California is confronted by a couple unsavory ex-soldiers who want to barter for a kitten that he has in his possession. Being the upright man who has not lost his honor even in defeat California denies each of them this defenseless animal. Willy spots this act of kindness and suggests that the two of them go back to the Preston homestead in Georgia where he would be welcomed by all.
But things do not go as they hoped as a bunch of Northern bounty hunters (the leader played by Rupp Whitaker) have taken it upon themselves to collect on some easy bounties of the ex-soldiers. No mercy is shown even when they are unarmed and cornered. Fortunately for our dynamic duo they escape one of the ambushes and continue on their way. The road home is not easy when they run afoul of a few Yankees and steal one of the horses. California continues alone to the Preston ranch and meets the lovely Helen Preston (Paola Bose), Willy’s sister, and her parents played by genre stalwart William Berger and Dana Ghia. He had no desire to stay at the Preston home until he takes a liking to Helen (and who wouldn’t), and the two form a relationship (no hanky panky is shown or hinted at). But this being a SW and there being bounty hunters on the prowl this is not how the movie ends. Thankfully our anti-hero comes to rescue and finishes off the bounty hunters in dramatic fashion.
While not your typical SW this one has more character development than most and has some good interaction between each one. Gemma is on top of his game in it. And while I have not seen either Paola Bose or Miguel Bose before I was enjoyed them on the screen. I was hoping for more screen time for Berger but sadly he had a rather small role. That being said the finale confrontation between Gemma and Whitaker is first class. There’s a great scene of Gemma, Whitaker and a bottle of whiskey which has to be seen to believed. Director Lupo did a solid job and it had the feel of Keoma with slow motion deaths and a very dirty landscape. Gianni Ferrio’s score while not the best definitely fits the feel of the movie. A solid effort all around.
With that being said it is not an easy movie to track down. I viewed this on Franco Cleef’s dvd-r release. Not the best video quality (believed to be VHS sourced) but the audio is clear and crisp. Check it out if you can.