There seems to be a bit of warmth for this film amongst the forumites, yet no dedicated thread. Let’s put that oversight to rights…
I think that spaghetti newcomers might find this genre outing nothing too special, but to us hardened hombres it has an unexpected freshness to it. And that comes from the chemistry, interaction and ‘out of character-ness’ of it’s two stars - Anthony Steffen and Mark Damon.
I know nothing of their off-screen relationship, but they had shared the credits previously, in another successful pairing, in Train To Durango, and there is a casual naturalness about their acting in this as well. By ‘out of character-ness’, I mean that when I think of Damon, it is the cock-sure, cheesy grinning, hairy chested version that (unfairly ::)) springs to mind. I know he’s played some disparate parts well - from his excellent eponymous hero role in Johnny Yuma to being the theatrically camp villain in Requiescent - and this role as the awkwardly lovestruck sidekick to the older, more worldwise Steffen, does him credit again. Of course we get that famous grin at times, but it’s 41 minutes in before he starts to undo his shirt buttons, and everything just seems a bit more restrained than it could’ve been.
As for Steffen, well, he smiles a lot (!!!) and actually acts in this (as he does in TTD). Now, it’s on record that I AM a big fan of Steffen, and I have no problem with his ‘stiffer/Stiffen’ mode, BUT - it is great to see him so different in this. And he doesn’t even ‘roll and shoot’ … (surely that can’t be right - was it the cider playing tricks on me??).
It’s standard fare, storywise. The money-bags/big-shot character wants to force the land away from the homesteaders because he knows that the railroad will be coming through it on its way to his town of Blackstone. There’s a corrupt sheriff on his payroll, played brilliantly (of couse) by Piero Lulli, a couple of Lulli-alike (Luis Barboo) deputies (who aren’t corrupt), and generally good support all round - particularly from Damon’s love interest, and from her dad as well. Our heros play bounty killers turned lawmen, and despite some cold-bloodied killings early on, they light-heartedly play out their roles perfectly.
Raphael Romero Marchent directs this story skillfully, and at times very stylishly 8). The opening credits play over a shootout in the very photogenic ruins of an old monastery(?), and look great. The action overall is well considered, and just when the film’s ‘comfortness’ is getting … well too comfortable … it gets nasty! We’re over an hour in now - and it’s turned into an altogether darker slice of spaghetti-pie.
Now, this particular black-hearted Reverend would have liked it to have soured some more, and here I think this film had the potential to be something special - but it would have been a difficult act to pull off. In the end, it hits a stylish and more comfortable middle ground, and I wasn’t too disappointed. There’s a sort of twisty-turny bit built into this from the beginning, whereas we’re led to believe that Damon could be the long lost son of Mr. Moneybags’ double crossing wife. So will he be, or won’t he? Anyway, the final bit put a big grin on my face, and I went to bed feeling that I’d been fully entertained by a sw that was not likely to rattle my top 20, but had given me just what I want from the genre - the comfort from watching a film playing within its conventions, but with an extra bonus of being unpredictabe at other times.
The version I watched was a nice wide-ish print that run in at 86 mins - which is a lot better than my old copy which was fullscreen and fuzzy and had foreign subs, and only ran for 76 mins. (But, where is the 94 min. version mentioned in the database?)
4 outa 5 buttons undone on this shirt, for the Rev - and a big cheesy grin to boot :D.