I watched the Wild East edition of Sartana last night (1968), and it is certainly a good spag. western. This one has a very different feel from the Sabata films. It doesn’t have as many comedic or playful moments. Instead, the film has a very mystical, almost supernatural, quality – both in the score and the way Parolini portrays the Sartana character.
The story itself is very simple (big surprise), but the execution is highly entertaining. The cool thing w/ the gunfights here compared to other SWs is all the movement involved in the shootouts. These are NOT classic standoffs or take cover and fire away exchanges. Instead, Sartana is leaping, jumping and rolling around as he picks off his foes (and not in the surreal acrobatic nature indicative of Sabata’s stunts).
If you love action (and we love SWs so who doesn’t, I guess), this film has more action scenes per capita than most spaghettis I’ve seen. It may have one of the highest, if not the highest, body counts of any of the Italian westerns. The downside is, though, that these shootouts do become a little repetitive. Although, the action is not particularly violent or bloody (which isn’t a bad thing, just stating it for the record).
The performances are nice, overall. Garko does the usual strong, silent type, but he succeeds in accentuating the mystical nature of the character and the film’s tone. William Berger is very good, as well. More dastardly than the charming style he brought to Sabata, which is good.
Parolini’s direction is quite good. He uses the composition nicely, and excels, as said, in implementing a supernatural feel to the material.
The story, while simple, becomes a bit convoluted due to all the changing alliances. Also, there’s probably not enough explanation to add sufficient credence to the story and Sartana’s involvement. However, this does not really detract from the “fun factor.”
Wild East’s transfer is solid as well. Some scenes are a little faded, it appears, and it does not seem to be a stylistic choice, but this is not distracting or annoying…just noticeable, if you’re looking for it. It is a good watchable disc.
In summing it up, Sartana is better than most SWs. But I don’t feel it rivals the best of the best (Leone’s big four, Great Silence, Big Gundown, Day of Anger). I need more time to digest the film, and probably another view or two, but Sartana will probably fall into the bottom portion of my top 10 SWs somewhere. So if you’re interested in this, and want to have a good time with an SW, then Sartana won’t let you down. It would be a unique addition to your spaghetti collection.