I watched this odd but entertaining western recently and thought I’d share my views.
This is really a vehicle for our main protagonist, in the shapely (34B-24-36) form of Lola Falana, to exercise her vocal chords as much as her Colt. The story itself is pretty flimsy, unlike Lola herself, who alternates from being as wholesome as a whore can get, to as raunchy as a saloon girl singer may get :-*. In fact, it’s only Weisser who tells us she’s “a prostitute” in yet another poor review (Black Tigress). In this he mentions how “… she “pumps” her clients for information regarding a missing treasure.” But although there is a small treasure at the end, this is incidental and is not a running theme through the film. And of course, in real life, even though a saloon singer would almost certainly have been a whore, Lola plays a much more ‘honourable’ role here.
So, she’s quite a thoughtful and clean-cut sorta gal really, but does gets misread by the old womenfolk of the town - who all end up apologising for having read Weisser’s book and jumping to the wrong conclusions. Even jealous girlfriend of Peter Martell (who is the town Doctor of sorts, and who should be prescribing himself some bromide) sees the good in her towards the end. So she’s good then!?
Well not that good, thank the Lord! Despite saving the town and the hostages that El Diablo has got a grip on, Lola spends a fair bit of the film doing what she set out to, and belts out sexy raunchy soul-funk numbers like she’s got Sam and Dave’s brass section and the devil behind her. It’s completely innapropriate for the time and place it’s set of course, but entertaining all the same. In fact, it’s quite hilarious to see a piano, banjo, sqeezebox and guitar make this full-on brass funk sound whilst glamour-puss Lola writhes around and poses in a selection of glitzy basques and boas. Fantastic!! ;D
We also get a honky-tonk jazz soul fusion number 8) for contrast, as well as - later on - a gospel ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ to make the old dears realize the error of their ways, but then as soon as they’re not looking, she rips off her virginal white gown to belt out the raunchy stuff again. (As far as this innapropriate music goes, the credits give some reference to ‘The Roll’s 33’ and "musical numbers by Pace and Panzeri, but I don’t know any more.)
There’s a lot of stupid stuff that makes little sense, but it has a charm. How did the little boy (on foot) leave town after the posse (on horses) and still intercept them one wonders?
Lola herself, is an interesting character in real life. Born of American African and Cuban parents, she eventually went to Italy, as a singing and dancing sensation, with Sammy Davis Jr. . This spaghetti western was her first of 3 films she made in Italy (becoming fluent in the lingo) before returning to America, posing for Playboy, doing the ‘Blaxploitation’ thing, becoming the highest paid female entertainer in Las Vegas, and taking Feliciano ‘Butch’ Tavares (of R’n’B/Funk band Tavares) as her man (not necessarily in that order). Her dancing and singing was later curtailed by a nasty reoccurence of multiple sclerosis that left her partially paralysed, and she went back to her childhood faith in the good Lord and devoted herself to those ends.
So, not the best spaghetti western ever made - not by a long shot, but … unusual - even just for having a female lead, and of colour as well. (Peter Martell hardly gets a mention from me, because he is completely overshadowed by Lola’s presence in this - he’s ok, but that’s about it.) It’s unusual as well for the musical nonsense, but entertaining for the same reason. And although it’s unusual for a number of reasons, it still has some of ‘the usual’ as well - protracted fist fights and obligatory flashbacks (clockwork musical box and tune to take her back to childhood) abound.
The version I saw was a pretty dreadful vhs transfer that has lost something over the generations, and had gained a few burnholes and scratches. It would be quite nice to see a better version one day, (but I won’t be rushing with so many other films to see.)
Anybody else for Lola … ?
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