We’re used to weird, slightly deranged or demented old men in Spaghetti Westerns – Leone had a special fondness for those characters – but old women are rare. Being the (hyper-)masculine subgenre that it is, its audiences of course preferred to watch young, beautiful women on screen. Directors and producers eagerly complied – and who would blame them? By showing us an old, deranged female drunkard (in an admittedly brief appearance), La taglia è tua … underscores its status as an exceptional western all’italiana. Right after Puro gets thrown out of the saloon by its barkeeper-bouncer (Angelo Dessy), an old woman turns around the corner and walks up to our hapless hero.
No less exceptional than the old woman’s appearance is Puro’s reaction to her. She addresses him with: “Welcome back to earth! You look pretty awful.” Yet instead of telling her to get lost or mind her own business, he tenderly caresses her right cheek.
Is Puro’s gesture merely an expression of the ‘natural’ bond between two alcoholics? He turns, bends over the hitching rail and throws up. Rosie (Neri) steps out of the saloon, telling the ghastly granny, “Go away, you witch!”
I think we’re supposed to perceive the cackling old woman as a harbinger of doom, if not Death herself (in Romance languages Death’s grammatical gender is female, e.g. la morte [Italian], la mort [French], la muerte [Spanish]). Soon Rosie and Puro will be killed. Tellingly, Puro welcomes the old woman with a gentle gesture, thereby metaphorically embracing death.
@JonathanCorbett, do you know who played her?