(Apologies if I’ve missed a thread for this one; I did scroll through all pages.)
A rare chance for a Euro-Western character actor to play a leading role, Tierra Brava is something of a triumph for Giuglielmo Spoletini/William Bogart.
Usually cast as a loutish or comedic sidekick, and often a Mexican, the swarthy Bogart is given a meaty role here and doesn’t disappoint. Again he plays a Mexican, but this time his character is a social bandit, Martin Rojas, driven to crime by the machinations of the gringos and paying a high price for his crimes.
The plot is melodramatic - while incarcerated, Martin’s baby son is brought up by a well-meaning sheriff - and takes liberties with logic - as in the way Martin is reunited with the boy after he escapes from prison - but Klimovsky’s direction is disciplined, if uninspired; the young actor playing the son never irritating; and the tragic tone never compromised by unwelcome comic interludes.
There are added bonuses, including an especially unpleasant and effective performance by Eduardo Fajardo as Martin’s treacherous accomplice, but the main reason for watching is to observe an unsung actor relishing his chance to shine. Bogart/Martin never asks for sympathy, never shies away from his dark urges, and offers the rare sight of a protagonist growing as a person - yes, a bona fide character arc!
Not a great film by any means but it does enough to stand out from the pack.