The Specialist (Gli Specialisti) 1969 Dir. Sergio Corbucci, I watched it all the way through today, and I guess the best way to describe this film is that its frusrating.
Corbucci to me, remains an enigma he was able to make some almost flawless top notch Westerns, The Mercenary, The Great Silence & Companero’s I consider the best. The Mercenary can compete with and beat most of the best American Westerns.
This should have been a great epic Corbucci film but it has serious flaws that serve to pull you right out of the story. The score for the most part is passable, though the title sequence however seems like it should be from a comedy flick about the French Riviera, it does not fit in.
The Specialist has got a few things that I personally really enjoyed seeing in a film, and other things that were absolutely out of context and continuity.
The great pieces of this film are the absolutely stunning backdrops of the Alps, like I mentioned in my first impression its like watching Corbucci do Anthony Man, reminds one of “The Far Country”. One particular sequence has Halliday and the sheriff crossing a beautiful trout stream.
One little side story I enjoyed was Corbucci’s addition of an interesting side story that had nothing to do with the main plot and that’s the depiction of the town sherrif (Gastone Moschin) as a fisherman we see in in one section he is carrying his rod as he rides off on horse back, in another he has a stringer of trout, and another we see him standing in a stream & fishing.
The Town of Blackstone, Nevada is perched high in the Sierras, the townfolk hung the brother of famous gunfighter Hud (Johnny Halliday). The town thought he had stolen a cashbox of bills that he was entrusted with. Hud returns to seek vengence.
The real town boss is a wiley widow woman banker (Francois Fabian) who’s name is, get this, Virginia Policutt, she uses sex just as much as cash to control the town.
There is also a Mexican Revolutionary band terrorizing the countryside, (though they do look a bit out of place, it may have worked if the film was set in the Sierra Madres of Mexico but its just a flaw of its distant Euro origins).
The towns center of action is the fancy saloon/brothel run by Sheba (Sylvie Fennec) complete with a red fez wearing bartender and a small orchestra.
The biggest, wierdest, and most frustrating inclusion in the film is the four street urchins of which its no exageration to call them Hippies, one of them has on a “Sergent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” overcoat with golden epalets and has an afro, another a pancho with big chains around his neck, the female wears a bandana around her forhead. One sequence has them smoking a huge joint, lol, WTF is up with this?
The character Hud looks cool he got a long dark overcoat (like a duster), a black hat with a silver hat band a weird sort of silver choaker (that’s kind of out of place) and a chain mail vest that must be made out of “mithril” from Lord Of The Rings, it does make sence to wear during his knife fights , but its a bit ridiculous to ask us to believe it will repell bullets. Halliday is a bit lightweight in the part.
El Diablo (Mario Adorf) is a cool one armed Mex bandit, but seems a bit off in the high country. He flapps this arm (that has a sharpened spur attached to its end) menacingly.
The action sequences are top notch, except for the bullet deflecting chain mail, the film is just seriously flawed by its unbelievability. It has more nude sequences with Francois Fabian (ff and topless) than any previous Corbucci film I’ve seen .
I can’t see what the motives of this film were, was it made for a ton money that was thrown at Corbucci for the promotion of Johnny Halliday, who knows, Corbucci can be hit or miss, this is a big miss, but it is worth seeing to see how it could have been another hit if it had been done differently.
Its a bit sloppy at places in its cinematography, one noticeable sequence is the “riding off into the sunset sequence” you see Hud ride off under a gate post the red sun a disk setting in the distance then you get a close shot of Hud against the sun and you see a turreted castle in the background .
Somebody has got to write a book on Corbucci so we can figure these inconsistancies out, I’d pay to find out WTF was going on in this man’s head.
Django 1966 (ok)
Navajo Joe 1966 (eh)
The Hellbenders 1967 (not seen)
The Mercenary 1968 (great his GBU)
The Great Silence 1968 (great is FAFDM)
The Specialist 1969 (WTF, lol)
Companero’s 1970 (great)
Shobary, is seriously out to lunch on this baby with his ranking, maybe a 50 by my opinion, but then again you have to look at Shobary’s criteria.
Django Kill did a good job fitting subs to the film, but this is definitely a film for Corbucci afficianados only, if its ever avilable here (USA), try to rent first.