The Last Gun / Jim il primo (Sergio Bergonzelli, 1964)

My exploration of the early or pre Leone spaghettis continues and the latest one to be viewed was this one.
I’m finding the process fascinating as I notice more and more elements which not only highlight the impact Leone had with FOD but also the hints already present of a sub genre about to blossom. In some, I believe I’ve also recognised clear national traits which overshadow the american setting and origins of the western genre. (In particular in the predominantly spanish film The Implacable Three.)

Jim il Primo however, despite being one of the first solely italian productions of this type, appears to be predominantly an attempt to make an american style western in the 1950s vein. The music is a million miles from what Morricone would introduce in the very same year and the moral ambiguity which became a hallmark of spaghettis is nowhere to be seen. Cameron Mitchell’s character (Bill) is a white hat of Lone Ranger proportions for the most part while Livio Lorenzon’s Jess is rotten to the core from start to finish. We also get the familiar scenario of cowardly townsfolk not helping the honorable sheriff and some syrupy kids to boot. (If only we could) So far, so predictable.

But there is an element which stands out as almost anachronistic in a western of this style and period. The brutality towards women (discussed recently in another thread here) is quite stark and sustained. It is an element which runs throughout the film, not just in an isloated occasion and the overall sense it gives is of impending menace to women throughout. In fact, Jess’ gang of thugs who terrorise the town seem more intent on rape than gold and the first Stagecoach hold up results not in robbery but abduction of the sheriff’s pretty wife and young daughter for lustful intent. Likewise, when the gang first enter town they descend on the saloon and immediately yell “Get the women down here!” In addition, we see, again as discussed elsewhere, the clear suggestion that the women, to a certain extent, are not averse to such overt abuse. The saloon keeper’s daughter succumbs to one of the gang’s less than subtle approaches in no time flat despite putting up a seemingly firey defense to begin with. But even though it is clearly the bad guys who exhibit the most unpleasant and menacing behaviour in this way they are patently not alone in their violent tendencies towards the opposite gender.

The town drunk, a figure of fun essentially, is told by the sheriff in kindly tones to let his wife do the beating in future when the man’s young son comes to get him out of jail. The son then defends his old man, saying “Don’t you beat your daughter sheriff, when she is naughty?” And even Bill, seemingly mild mannered and pacifist shop keeper that he is meant to be, raises his hand to his sweetheart when she critisizes his lack of action against the bandits. He doesn’t actually hit her, instead he holds his hand as if to slap her and then kisses her passionately instead. Which apparently is hunky dorey for all concerned.

This level of abuse towards women raises it’s head on more than one occasion in spaghettis over the coming years but it struck me as a real anomaly in a film which sets its stall out as trying to mimic the squeaky clean 50s style western in most other ways. Was Bergonzelli testing boundaries here or was it merely a manifestation of a southern european macho culture poking its head through the facade? I’m not sure, but I suspect the latter.

On the whole, the film was not one I would recommend to most. It is interesting in an historical context of the genre kind of way but by no means a must see movie. It isn’t helped by the less than inspiring english dub it must be said. (I watched the Dorado Region 1 DVD) None of the actors seem to match their characters that well, except the evil cackling of Livio Lorenzon, but I found it particularly off putting to have the familiar voice of Cameron Mitchell replaced with some very stiff tones lifted straight from central casting.

All in all, I’m glad I watched it but its probably best described as one for the completists.

I also think it was the macho culture at work

But there might be another element: this violence towards women may be the counterpart of the worshipping of the mother within Italian culture. It could be seen as the ‘heretic’ form of it.

Like blasphemy can only function within the context of religion, the beating etc. of women can only get a special meaning within a culture in which the woman is at the same time worshipped.
The virgin/harlot/follower motto would be completely without meaning in a non-christian context; I guess a Hindoe or Muslim wouldn’t understand what a writer or director tried to express by it.

Still at the same time violence towards women can be used to express how bad the villains really are; I watched ADIOS GRINGO last night, and although it looks and feels American (it was based on an American novel) the way Ida Galli/Evelyn Stewart was mistreated (raped, tied naked to four poles in the blistering sun) was quite extreme, non-American in a way that I couldn’t imagine it be shown in an American western from the fifties/sixties. When Gemma discovers her, he says:
“Vigliacchi” (cowards)
For an Italian (yes, a macho) it’s much worse to be called a coward than a criminal or a villain

The Last Gun is standard fare for me, and like what Phil has said… that dubbed Cameron Mitchell voice ???.

I have seen Jim il primo several years ago, can’t remember much of it.

Simple american b-picture style. Noted it with 2 (or less)/10.

I agree with others. Early sw which imitates old Hollywood westerns with not much any original ideas. Recommended only for completist and those who are interested in early eurowesterns.

Like Phil said in his review the most memorable thing (and I mean it in the bad way)in the film is the strange raping theme. First it’s just a little disturbing but in the end it gets ridiculous as there’s a rape attempt after another. They even try to rape a girl in the middle of the crowded street. :frowning:

By the way, is there a possibility to fix polls? Here we have again apparent poll which have been tainted by SD.

Ha ha. Only just noticed that. Definitely been some multiple account voting going on here. The ghost of SD lives on!

I agree with others. Early sw which imitates old Hollywood westerns with not much any original ideas. Recommended only for completist and those who are interested in early eurowesterns.

I concur.

I am a completist , once i start collecting movies of actors and genres, i feel i have to collect the crap too. :wink:

Yup, don’t know why Cameron Mitchell didn’t dub his own voice in this one. It certainly added to the film’s cheap feel.

Livio Lorenzon’s hat made him look ridiculous. AND, he should have kept his shirt on (literally). Not a villain for the ages, that.
He had a funny line that produced a visual pun, though. In the beginning of the film he seems to have murdered a husband and wife (and is in the process of burning their home), when he is set upon by two men. He tells them “His wife was makin’ eyes at me” as the camera pans down to the dead wife staring blankly into the sky. Heehee.

The most interesting character to me was Guitar. The only bit of suspense in this film was related to his identity. I know I’ve seen this actor before (Carl Möhner) but I can’t place him (maybe from Rififi). I like the way he looks up Kitty Carver’s dress. He has a funny verbal exchange with the sheriff:
Sheriff: "Where have you been all day?"
Guitar: "Here."
Sheriff: "Then why didn’t I see ya?"
Guitar: “Cause you’re wearing a badge, not a dress.”

Truly a man who knows his priorities.

I remember reading from (R.I.P.) that Mitchell was ripped off by producers and once he realized he’s not going to get paid he left the project. His part was finished with some lookalike doing rest of the scenes. Maybe Tom Betts can tell more as it was his review.

me too, although i haven’t seen this one (i think)

I saw him recently in Gold Train/30 winchesters for El Diablo … that one maybe?

Interesting. I wonder why they were not going to pay him. Do you remember any more of the story?

Naw, I haven’t seen that one. I looked him up on IMDB. I don’t think it was a Spaghetti. It was probably Rififi but I can 't be sure. Maybe Sink The Bismark. Thanks

That was all info given on the site, sorry.

Just watched this tonight - I enjoyed it even with the dubbed Cameron Mitchell. It isn’t ground breaking but I was entertained and that’s what I look for in a movie.

I liked this flick. Mitchell as the wimpy citizen with a secret. Nice to see how he n ot reacts to the things happening in the town and how the girl dislikes that.

I have fairly dim memories of this one, but it’s basically an Italian version of The Fastest Gun Alive, with Mitchell standing in for Glenn Ford from the earlier film.

I liked that angle too.

I like tha baddie in this one, too. He wears one of the smallest and most stupid hats ever.

You have me interested in this hat.

This early effort turned out to be better than I expected as I bought the Dorado dvd more in support of their more recent fine releases. Livio Lorenzen chews the scenery and has a ball as the notorious outlaw, Jess Lindahl, who takes over a group of bandits by force, then takes over a town while awaiting a shipment of gold. Cameron Mitchell, as the storekeeper, plays lowkey, a mysterious singing drifter called ‘Guitar’ plays all sides and several nice looking ladies are on hand for the outlaws to torment. Not even top 50, but still kept me entertained. This is not up to Dorado’s recent standards but it’s quite ok, although the final shootout being at night is sometimes hard to follow. Re the hat, there are several rather unique ones on display here.