The basic premise for this is that Steve (Stephen Forsyth) wants to settle down with Susan (Anna Maria Polini), but her dad Duke (Conrado San Martin) aint having any of that… 'cos Steve and Duke have been pistoleros - and that’ll mean trouble’ll follow 'em. To complicate it, there’s a money-grabbing squeeze of Duke’s who really fancies a go on Steve. When he don’t oblige, she weasles her way into Jackson (Franco Russel) 's favours and sets ‘em all up. Jackson and Burns run the town and are wanting to buy up all the farms. Steve has other ideas. There’s a great touch with Burns having a wooden (or knackered anyway) right hand which makes him a bit pissed. And talking off pissed - we’ve got a whisky-pickled ol’ scrote to add a bit more colour.
It all sounds pretty good, and I know Brother Tig really enjoyed this, but it failed to fully win me over. It’s biggest let down for me was the overlong slices of dialogue and the extremely one-dimensional black and white characters.
Here, I’ll cut and paste my previous (late night) ramblings …
"I wanna feel, between my fingers, the warm wood of a plough
The prickly ears of grain
The silky soft hair of my woman
But I can’t…
'Cos I gotta kill.
I wanna look into people’s eyes
and see 'em smile at me
To clasp the hand of everyman
and feel mine clasped by his
But I can’t…
'Cos i gotta kill.
The southern hills are waiting for me
The branches of the trees are weeping
I don’t have time to die
In all these things there’s the truth of life
And when I speak of them my voice fails me."
The opening song - well a talkover really, is played over wonderfully sketchy painterly graphics …
and that’s probably about as good as it gets - O.K. - maybe it’s not that bad, but it doesn’t have much of a spaghetti-feel to much of this early-ish entry.
Steve Blane and his future pa-in-law (but not if I can help it) Duke Buchanan, fall out over the former wanting to settle down with the latter’s daughter. Duke’s philosophising goes around the premise that somebody’ll always be after a pistolero like Steve, and he points out that his own wife got caught up in some fracas or other and got herself an accidental bullet. Neither are gonna budge on this - and it’s one of those ‘a man’s gotta do…’ films that has clear-cut characters in the American tradition of black and white.
It’s a simple plot - a bit too obvious - and over-explained by too much snappy, sharp, quippy dialogue - deep and meaningless for the most part of it. The naievety of the premise demands that we go along with it but it’s pushing our credibility a bit … except just now and again we see a glimmer of spaghetti-ism amongst the simplistic premise. (Well this is 1965 - early days still.)
Some of the (far too much) dialogue is good - Duke explains to Steve that the two of them will always be pistoleros, and if he doesn’t forget the daughter then "It’ll be me that has to hunt ya down and put an ounce and a half of lead between your eyes."
And there is a bit of that ‘bullet in the forehead’ stuff, in the very good action sequences. Blimey - Steve can shoot backwards, behind himself better than Django, and that sort of stuff’ll keep this fan happy for a while.
If all this sounds mostly negative - it is because it is a very Americany-moralistically sort of early spaghetti (Phil would be better at explaining this than me). There’s too much talking and explaining, where a bit of spaghetti silence and a wry grin or a snarl or a grimmace would suffice and improve. However the final shootout is great and the stuntmen certainly earnt their dollars on this and made it worth the price of admission.
The best actor in this was not one of the humans however. Franco Ressel made a good villain - true, but the main man (Stephen Forsyte) made Anthony Steffen (I like him! ) look positively animated by comparison. Steve’s white horse responded to a whistle, played dead, acted lame, and even (in one bit of discontinuity) turned black!
In conclusion this was reasonably entertaining but mostly in the action sequences - but overall it was a bit lame - just like the horse.
The version I watched wasn’t the Japanese SPO widescreen dvd - but a fullscreen VPD video - 79 minutes.