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The Euro-West Version Of Wagon Train

by Tony Nash

(A Part of western Wednesdays)

(Spoiler Free)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

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Antes Llega la Muerte (I Sette del Texas/The Hour of Death/The Seven from Texas) (1964) **** PG-13

Paul Piaget: Bob Carey

Claudio Undari: Ringo (as Robert Hundar)

Gloria Milland: Maria (Mary) Clifford

Fernando Sancho: Tomaso Scometti

Jesus Puente: Mr. Clifford

Francisco Sanz: Rogers the Guide (as Paco Sanz)

Raf Baldassarre: Jess, Bandit Leader (as Ralph Baldwyn)

Gregorio Wu: Lin Chu (as Gregory Wu)

Beni Deus: Dan

Luis Induni: Donald, Bandit

Gaspar “Indio” Gonzalez: Tom, Bandit (as Indio Gonzalez)

Written by: Federico De Urrutia, Manuel Sebares, & Joaquin Luis Romero Marchent (as Joaquin L. Romero Marchent)

Directed by: Joaquin Luis Romero Marchent

(credits according to Spanish version)

Synopsis: The wealthy Mr. Clifford must get his wife Mary to the city of Laredo for an operation. With the Apaches on the war path, all he and his guide can find for help is some local riff-raff, the only good man of the bunch being Mary’s ex-boyfriend Bob Carey, recently released for a self-defense killing. Trouble quickly brews when the leader of a bandit gang trying to rob the Clifford’s seeks revenge on the group for being left helpless to be killed by the Apaches.

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Having come out the same year as Per un Pugni di Dollari (A Fistful of Dollars) and Pistole non Disconto (Gun’s Don’t Argue), Antes Llega is another of the early precursors to what would make up the Italian Western genre. Spanish filmmaker Joaquin Luis Romero Marchent, one of the leading figures of Spanish genre cinema along with his elder son Rafael Romero, creates an interesting story revolving around a group of characters who learn a lot about themselves and the people they once mistrusted as they head off on a wagon journey to the big city. The rag tag group includes a man and his wife, a famous gunfighter recently released from prison, the man out to kill the gunman for the self-defense killing of his brother, an honorably loyal crusty guide, and a roughish Mexican Indian with unusual loyalties & his close friend. The woman’s ill health is the reason for the trip, but because the husband doesn’t want her to worry, tells her she’s in the early stages of pregnancy and the city of Laredo is ideal for raising the coming child. When the group must put aside suspicions and hate when bandits posing as aids, as well as marauding Apaches begin stalking them, the group begins to respect each other and come to realize certain truths.

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The CBS series Wagon Train was still on the air at the time of the film’s release, and it’s not completely implausible that Marchent was influenced by the series as he co-authored the screenplay. That it’s a journey film with various locations and characters making cameo appearances gives some credence to this idea, but the characters and the reason for the journey appear to be more in line with the Italian feel of the genre. And with the journey being impromptu, there’s no Wagon Master, though Mr. Clifford is clearly the organizer/head of the trip.

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The only stand out performances from the cast are Italian/Euro Western regulars Claudio Undari (under his American alias Robert Hundar), Fernando Sancho, and Raf Baldassare. Undari plays Ringo, a man determined to kill Bob Carey for the death of his brother, whom others insist Ringo’s brother tried to get Carey from behind. He eventually comes to be a 2nd needed hand to the group as the journey becomes more treacherous and the dangers of attack rise higher. Initially full of anger as he joins the wagon group, his hate for Carey gradually lessens, but also feels he owes his brother to avenge him, leaving him torn as to what is really right in the long run. Sancho plays Tomaso, a mixed-race man, of Spanish and Native American roots. While many who were part Native American heritage during the period were shunned and victims of harsh discrimination, Tomaso seems to have gained the respect and admiration of the local community, in spite of his criminal behavior. While he has no qualms about stealing and fighting, he gives those he likes and admires the respect and courtesy they deserve, and will stick it out as long as he has to. Baldassare, a normally secondary character in the Westerns, gets a rare opportunity to be the main bad guy of a film as Jess. An outlaw by profession, Jess and his crew use the trip as a means to rob the train, and initially are with Tomaso and his pal on the scheme. When Bob Carey intervenes on the Clifford’s behalf, the group chooses to leave Jess to hands of fate. He swears revenge not long after.

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While leaning more towards the American style of the Western than the Italian style soon to follow, Antes Llega is still an interesting little film that mixes character relations and action set pieces. The characters are one dimensional, but are still interesting in that they seem like very real people who could be encountered in everyday life. Marchent, known for his human interest drama Westerns, shows off what he intended that style to be, and though the character interactions take precedent over the story, the film remains intriguing.

(I do recommend this film as it offers a nice mix of action and drama, but am a little disappointed with Dorado Films in the advertising of the release. Their original info when the release was first announced said that Spanish and English audio would be included, English subtitles for the Spanish audio. Sadly, the Spanish audio is not included, even with the SWDb release page info saying that it is. I’m not saying that Dorado intentionally deceived anyone with this mistake, but that kind of mistake should be taken into account. The release itself does offer a fine visual transfer that offers crisp imagery, even with clearly faded colors. The English dub is decent, but at times it’s still easy to tell it’s bland it spots, though this go around the dubbers are at least trying to do a decent job and sound convincing. Overall not that bad of a release.)

All images courtesy of Images, and their respective owners, including Dorado Films

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

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