Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone

Black Widow Vengeance: The Seductive Murderess

by Tony Nash

(The Art of the Erotic Thriller Miniseries 1: Part 1)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the author alone)

(This review is of the German language version)

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Sie Totete in Ekstase (She Killed in Ecstasy) (1970) **** R

Soledad Miranda: Mrs. Johnson

Paul Muller: Dr. Franklin Houston

Ewa Stromberg: Dr. Crawford (as Ewa Stroemberg)

Howard Vernon: Prof. Jonathan Walker

Horst Tappert: The Police Inspector

Jesus Franco: Dr. Donen

Fred Williams: Dr. Johnson

Written & Directed by: Jesus Franco (as Frank Hollmann)

Synopsis: After her husband commits suicide when his experiments are considered inhuman, the distraught widow decides to murder the four people she deems responsible. Using her charms and a set of disguises, she lures the three men and one woman to their fates.

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Jess Franco, named as one of the masters of exploitation cinema, shows he could do a lot more when allotted the time and money to be creative with this unique Thriller. During the early 70’s, the controversy involving experiments with human embryos was only beginning but already gained many who approved and many who disapproved of it, and Franco decided to use the issue as the backdrop for his story of a woman driven to madness after her scientist husband kills himself when he is condemned as a criminal and monster for engaging in questionable experiments. Unlike many other filmmakers of the time who would’ve continued with the embryo theme as the main point of the film, Franco only references it within the first 10 or 15 minutes of it, and the remainder is used to show the widow’s slow and systematic killing of those who drove her husband to his death. While much of Franco’s films were considered schlock, this film and many others were actually quite well made and intelligent in their own right, especially when he was giving ample time and the money to accomplish it. The film plays up primarily like a series of set pieces, only the first half hour or so done as a straight linear story, though the investigation by the police do help to interconnect everything at the end.

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Now with most Franco films, it’s generally style over substance, and this film is certainly fitting of that category. The locations of the film are magnificent to behold, and shows Franco tended to be more of a visual filmmaker, though many of his plot elements were good in their own right, especially when he didn’t have to cut corners to meet a producer’s low amount in finance and time. Producers Artur Brauner and Harry Alan Towers seemed to be the ones who gave him the most freedom to be creative even when they themselves had tight, but not restricting, budgets. Usually though, his films tend to be more of a visual experience rather than one for plot devices or some other cinematic forms, though many of his actors still gave really good performances even in the face of such difficulties.

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Soledad Miranda, a Spanish actress who’s blossoming stardom was tragically cut short when she was killed in an auto accident, exudes a menacing and alluring aura of beauty and sexuality in the role of Mrs. Johnson. Little is said of or revealed about the character, but it’s made clear she had a deep love and devotion to her husband, to the point that when he went crazy after being dismissed from his work, a part of her lost her mind as well. She completely loses her grip on reality when she can do nothing to prevent her husband from ending his own life, and vows to destroy those who destroyed him. Using her beauty, and also a chameleon like series of disguises, mostly through wigs and a clever use of make-up and voice, she lures the unexpecting quartet one at a time to their erotic and violent demises. Miranda’s face was exceptionally beautiful and could often evoke more with her eyes and facial expressions more than with dialogue, hence why her character tends to speak more via inner thoughts narration, as her face and body go through a varied amount of emotions, which Franco uses extremely well. In moments of pure hatred and rage, Miranda could be quite frightening to look at, and in the murder scenes, is most effective with it.

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The other actors give pretty much one-dimensional portrayals of their characters, but veteran character actors Paul Muller and Howard Vernon are the standouts. Muller, a Swiss-Italian actor, gets the most time on screen to give off emotion, and is shown as very worried and bereaved as all of his colleagues are being killed off in strange fashions. He isn’t sure what’s going on or why it’s happening in the first place. Howard Vernon, a Swiss-French actor, gets the most philosophical dialogue of the whole cast, and while his screen time is short, is able to convey a kind of pompous and at times, smug, attitude which makes watching his character get killed off a little more interesting. Ewa Stromberg, a Swedish actress, whose career only last a short while, does a good job with the little screen time she has with her character, even playing her up as bisexual to add to the irony of her characters demise. Franco himself even plays a little part in the film, albeit uncredited.

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One of Franco’s more interesting efforts, Sie Totete lacks the narrative effort almost entirely, but makes up for it with amazing visuals, music and performances. An artistic hit in its own right because Franco used what little he often had to work with to great advantage and took his viewers on crazy set piece oddities that were surreal and psychedelic to the point of looking like something from an Andy Warhol painting. Bizarre, surreal, and intriguing, the film has an atmosphere and a presence that makes it curious viewing.

(This is one of the few times I’ll say that I recommend a film with caution. Jess Franco is a filmmaker whose work is either really good or really bad. He certainly has plenty of decent films that are worth watching, but you often have to search for them and do research. This is one of the ones I’d say is worth taking the chance on as it is very well made. The IMDb lists it as a Horror film, but I can state categorically that this isn’t a Horror film at all, but a fairly intense Thriller. Soledad Miranda certainly gives her character some terrifying looks when she’s about to kill her victims, but that’s what makes her character interesting in that her mind completely goes after her husband dies,a and she ventures down the darkest of rabbit holes. The Blu Ray from Severin Films offers a beautiful visual and audio transfer, the picture looking gorgeous as if it was filmed recently, and with the German audio being the only known one to have existed, is crisp.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners.

For more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066104/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/She_Killed_in_Ecstasy

Buying options

https://www.amazon.com/She-Killed-Ecstasy-Blu-ray-CD/dp/B00VEUX3WM

She Killed In Ecstasy [2-Disc Limited Edition Blu-ray]

 

 

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

Gritty & Dark Revenge: Italian/Spanish Style

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(Mild Spoilers)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(this review is of the Italian language version)

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Sonora (Sartana non Perdona/Sartana Does Not Forgive) (1968) **** R

George Martin: Sartana Uriah

Gilbert Roland: Kirchner

Jack Elam: Slim Kovacs

Antonio Monselesan: Jose (as Tony Norton)

Gerard Tichy: John Sullivan

Tomas Torres: Reyes

Oscar Pellicer: Sharkey Lasky

Osvaldo Genazzani: Sheridan

Gustavo Re: The Undertaker

Carlos Miguel Sola: Mateo

Rosalba Neri: Stagecoach Passanger

Donatella Turri: Jose’s Wife

Written by: Giovanni Simonelli, from a story by Jaime Jesus Balcazar

Directed by: Alfonso Balcazar

Synopsis: After outlaw Slim Kovacs rapes and murders his young wife, gunman Sartana vows revenge and goes after everyone associated with Kovacs. Problems arise when Sartana’s mercenary friend Kirchner accepts an offer from Kovacs as his bodyguard.

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1968 was another pivotal year for the Italian Western genre. Sergio Leone had his spectacular C’era una Volta il West (Once Upon a Time in the West), Sergio Corbucci had his revisionist grim Il Grande Silenzio (The Great Silence), and Gianfranco Parolini introduced one of the most iconic characters to the genre, Sartana. With the Italians being noted for taking a popular story or idea or character and milking it to the point of parody, names like Sartana, Django, and Sabata were no exception to the rule. With 68 being the peak of the genre, and the events of May of that year slowly but surely changing the landscape of European cinema, some filmmakers decided to go against what was expected of them in regards to the times, and tell exciting stories to entertain. Sonora ironically proved to be one of the better entries into the Sartana series/knock-offs. Taking a more serious, somber, and at times grim approach to both the genre and the character, filmmaker Alfonso Balcazar and his screenwriters Giovanni Simonelli and J.J. Balcazar craft a very different, interesting, and very well-done tale of murder, revenge, money, and intrigue, all as a broken man looks to avenge the death of the woman he loved and finally move on with his life.

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An interesting foot-note to the film is that Giovanni Simonelli was more known as a writer of Comedy films, particularly those of the duo Franco e Ciccio (Italy’s version of Laurel & Hardy). That he helped craft a brooding, dark Western about rape and revenge turned the heads of many of his comedy work. That the film was a success showed Simonelli was versatile in his abilities as a writer, penning a few more Westerns, and even the occasional Mystery Thriller, but never really straying too far from Comedies.

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George Martin, a good-looking Spanish actor (and one of the few Spanish leading men of the genre) gets to sport scruffy facial hair, sun-drenched tan, and sweat in the role of Sartana Uriah. Originally a bar-hopping playboy and scrapper, Sartana gives up that life when he falls in love with a beautiful local girl. His newfound happiness and life as a rancher is tragically cut short when he finds his wife raped and murdered. Martin then has his normally smiling and charming hero go into a serious and somber mood, mercilessly going after all the men associated with the brutal crime. When he meets a poor Mexican farmer, who was double-crossed by the murderer who coaxed him into a bank heist, Sartana becomes reminded of who he used to be and decides to help the farmer while also seeking out his quarry. He soon finds his quest may not be so easy when a friend of his is seemingly taking sides against him. Martin makes for a good contemporary to icons like Clint Eastwood, Franco Nero, Gianni Garko, and George Hilton, and while it’s clear to see even under the stubble he was a fairly handsome man who would could’ve easily done well in the romantic lead department, but was loyal to his character roots and made a pretty decent career for himself as either the good guy, buddy of the good guy, or the villain.

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Gilbert Roland, a Mexican actor who prospered in Hollywood’s Golden Age, does very well in the role of the mysterious and cagey Kirchner. A mercenary by occupation who seems content to simply rid the local area of incoming bandits looking to hide out there, Kirchner still will sell his gun to anyone who offers a high enough price. Certain of Sartana’s intent to possibly get himself killed in getting revenge, Kirchner becomes involved with the slimy Slim Kovacs to see what will play out. As he becomes more aware of what Sartana is out to do and stop, Kirchner begins to wonder how long he can remain on the sidelines waiting to see who will approach him. Roland uses an impartial gaze to illustrate that Kirchner doesn’t take sides on any occasion, but nevertheless always has a certain idea about people, and simply watches until he is certain of what he should do, though sometimes the watching and waiting game can be equally dangerous. He has a clear respect for Sartana and seems to know a little about what has happened to him in the past, but reasons known only to himself keep from being open about it.

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Jack Elam, one of Hollywood’s most frequently utilized character actors, gets one of his rare opportunities at a prime role with Slim Kovacs. A devious, lecherous, and completely untrustworthy type, Kovacs has little loyalty to anyone save for the absolute dregs of the West, and takes utter delight in doing whatever he wants, including sadistic pleasures. He goes too far however when he rapes and kills the wife of Sartana, and finds not just himself, but anyone who associated with him, the target of the man’s wrath. With his famous leering glass eye that looks like it follows everybody, Elam is able to showcase the kind of sleaze one would expect from a Italo Western baddie and does it very well. In spite of his treacherous, cowardly nature, he’s able to take over a town after gunning down the sheriff in a duel that’s later revealed to be fixed in his favor, and proceeds to reap the benefits with his equally sleazy men. This overconfidence will pay a key factor later.

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While not offering anything completely original, save for the ambiguous nature of some of the characters, the film is evenly paced and with enough depth to keep it from being totally average fare. The case does well with their roles and convey their own individual form of having the audience root for them or loathe them. Not overtly spectacular, and sticking to gritty realism employed in Corbucci’s original Django, Sonora still provides the kind of story, action, and characters that were the staples of the genre.

(Another Italo/Euro Western I highly recommend to anyone to check out. It’s a fairly average outing as said above, but the characters keep it very interesting and different, offering a another interpretation to the classic theme of a gunman out for revenge. The DVD from Al!ve Entertainment/AG Films is quite grainy in the visual transfer,but not so much it deters the viewing experience and actually offers viewers a throw-back to the drive in movie days, and offers clear Italian and German audio too. There’s no English dub of the film, but subtitles are offered, although I believe the subtitles are in fact dub-titles of a lesser quality English track. Still, the presentation is quite nice and is quite inexpensive to get. )

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063548/

https://www.spaghetti-western.net/index.php/Sonora

Buying options

https://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B00SCGATSC?ie=UTF8&tag=italowestern-21

 

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

Pinkertons vs Confederate Marauders in the Italian West

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(This review is of the Italian language version)

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Dos Hombres van a Morir (Ringo, Il Cavaliere Solitario/Two Brothers, One Death/Ringo, the Lone Rider) (1968) **** PG-13

Pietro Martellanza: Capt. Allan Bly (as Peter Martell)

Piero Lulli: Daniel “Dan” G. Samuelson

Paolo Herzl: “Kid” Michael

Armando Calvo: “Bloody” Bill Anderson

Jose Jaspe:  Zachary Hutchinson

Dyanik Zurakowska: Lucy Corbett (as Dianik)

Jesus Puente: Major Corbett

Giuseppe Fortis: Gonzalez

Antonio Pica: The Sheriff of Springfield

Angel Menendez: Judge Grant

Frank Brana: Juez, Anderson Gang

Alfonso Rojas: Stockwell, the Miner

Written by: Mario Caiano, from a story by Eduardo Manzanos (as Eduardo M. Brochero)

Directed by: Rafael Romero Marchent (as Rafael R. Marchent)

Synopsis: An ex Union Captain with a personal debt to settle teams up with an undercover Pinkerton Agent to bring down a Confederate officer turned outlaw and his gang.

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1968 saw many changes for the world and for the film industry. The Student Riots incited by the disapproval of the Vietnam War, people’s change in attitude to once accepted ideas, the burgeoning crusades of the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., the 2nd Wave Feminists, and the UN to better conditions, and of course the Intellectual Awakening of artists in the various mediums all ushered in a series of disillusioned and uncertain individuals who were trying to find meaning in a not so simple world. While many writers, directors, artists, etc., were all flocking to the new style in vogue, some like Rafael Romero Marchent, Mario Caiano, and others, were still interested in doing good old-fashioned entertainment films that still offered the human drama people expected, but without the deep meanings of the time  Taking another of the American Westerns popular themes of Confederate soldiers waging their own personal battles against the United States, an actioned packed story of redemption, greed, and soul searching unfolds as a retired Union Captain and an agent for the Pinkerton Detective Agency try to put an end to the criminal activity of Confederate Colonel, for whom the Civil War never ended.

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An interesting note to this particular B grade entertainment Italian Western, is that it’s loosely inspired by real events. In the post-Civil War period, there was a band of ex Confederate soldiers turned bandits called the Bushwhackers. These men had been trained in one of the earliest known practiced forms of Guerilla Warfare, by ambushing as many Union Army units as possible. Not satisfied by the end of the conflict, many of these men took the skills they learned in ambushing and put them to use in stagecoach robberies, bank robberies, and other forms of criminal activities. Some did this in order to fund a secret group planning on starting the War up again, while others, disillusioned by General Lee and President Jefferson Davis’ unconditional surrender, simply took up the criminal way of life.

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Pietro Martellanza, credited under his Americanized name Peter Martell, one of the few Italian actors who successfully pulled off being a lead in the Western genre, is very good in the role of Captain Allan Bly. A Southerner by birth whose State was split (meaning half supported the Union and half supported the Confederacy), and he ended fighting for the Union, Bly has mixed emotions regarding the gang. On the one hand he wants to stop Bill Anderson for doing any more harm, but a member of the gang called Kid seems to hold special interest to Bly, and apparently direct confrontation with Anderson would lead to dire consequences for Kid. Bly has little regrets for his fighting on the side of the Union, and takes extreme exception when he’s accused by a Springfield resident of being on the side of Bill Anderson and his gang, so much so he actually starts a fight. While he’s not officially involved in the investigation of the Anderson gang, Bly wants to help the Pinkerton Agent hired by the heads of the Springfield community leaders, more to help with saving Kid for whatever his reasons are, and actually does a better job than the authorities in helping the agent. Martellanza isn’t your typical Italian Western hero, but he does do a fair job at the material at hand, and is believable for the most part.

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Piero Lulli, one of the iconic character actors of the Golden Age of Italian Genre Cinema, does an excellent job against type in the role of Daniel G. Samuelson. Normally known for playing slimy villains in the Westerns, Lulli is quite convincing as a good guy, something he only got to do on a small number of occasions. Samuelson at first appears to be a nice guy drifter content to earn money here and there, and buying drinks for the locals. Quickly it’s discovered he’s the Pinkerton man hired by the community leaders of Springfield to locate all of the Anderson Gang and their loot. Samuelson is a very clever and witty man, and even with his adventurous drifter image being a rouse to find out all he can about the robberies and find a way to bring the gang to justice, his personality is exactly the same in both forms. At first, he tries to coerce Bly via money into forming a partnership, but by telling Bly he’ll let him handle Kid in whatever way he feels fit just so long as he can give the Pinkertons a successful report later, they form a successful partnership and communicate well.

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Armando Calvo, a Spanish actor born in Puerto Rico, who migrated between Spain and Mexico for film work, makes an excellent villain in the role of “Bloody” Bill Anderson. A thief prior to the Civil War, Anderson used his rank as Captain to engage in raids and looting, and uses his knowledge of Guerilla Warfare to stage successful robberies all over Springfield Illinois. Anderson has a lot of bravado, and is fairly cocky, satisfied that he has the town in a complete state of panic. Scheme after scheme for Anderson becomes more and more daring, but it’s when he orders the killing of a band of Mormon preachers so his gang can continue their raids in Cognito that it looks like the former Confederate officer is going mad with power and may very well be planning his own version of the Civil War. Eventually Anderson’s sins will catch up with him and he’ll eventually face a truth far worse than the realization there are men finally on his trail and closing in on him.

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(While Armando Calvo is great in the role, his version of Bloody Bill is a very loose interpretation. The real-life Anderson was most famous for riding with the Quantrill Raiders and his involvement in Quantrill’s burning down of Lawrence Kansas, one of the greater atrocities of the Confederacy Guerillas during the War. His betrayal of Quantrill led to him becoming one of the most successful Guerilla leaders of the Confederacy, but never fully trusted again as his tactics were becoming more reckless. The real Anderson was never near Springfield and was killed in Richmond Missouri after rampaging through a Union Loyalist community. This isn’t to say that Calvo doesn’t do a good job with Anderson, but anyone looking for a historically accurate rendering will be disappointed.)

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Not perfect by a long shot, Dos Hombres still offers enough thrills, action, and story to be an entertaining fun ride. Die hard and hardcore Italian Western enthusiasts may balk it has little to none of the common themes associated to the sub-genre and plays far too much like an American made Western, but it’s still well made, and proves not all of the Italian Westerns had to follow the themes and tropes originated by Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci to be entertaining and successful. Not completely original or influential in any way, the film shows that with enough imagination you can take a historical figure and be true to who he was as a person, but take him out of his real-life role. The acting is good from the entire cast, and while many elements may seem off key or confusing, is still a well-made production that does its job in entertaining the viewer and giving he or she a good time.

(Another one I highly recommend as while it offers no real surprises or unique techniques in the long run, it’s still a film with enough story and substance to keep viewers entertained and interested, with an ending that, while certainly not out of left field, is certainly different for the genre.. The DVD by Koch Media offers a fine visual transfer and good all around audio quality, and is English friendly for those who prefer it. The DVD is long out of print, but unopened, sealed copies can still be found on eBay and Amazon for fair prices, which I’ll list if they’re still available. A DVD double feature from Wild East featuring the film also is available)

all images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061593/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringo_the_Lone_Rider

https://www.spaghetti-western.net/index.php/Dos_hombres_van_a_morir

Buying options

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Ein-Schuss-zuviel-Koch-DVD-OVP/381241408102?hash=item58c3c23a66:g:2lUAAOSwNSxVPmn1

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Ein-Schuss-zuviel-NEU-OVP-Italowestern-um-zwei-Scharfschutzen-Diggi-Pak/281802538407?epid=85684333&hash=item419cbd7da7:g:n84AAOSw9r1V-rKX

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

A Good Man Gone Bad

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(This review is of the Spanish language version)

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El Precio de un Hombre (La Morte ti Segue…Ma non ha Fretta/The Price of a Man/The Bounty Killer/The Ugly Ones) (1966) ****1/2 PG-13

Richard Wyler: Luke Chilson

Tomas Milian: Jose Gomez

Halina Zalewska: Eden Novack (as Ella Karin/Illya Karin)

Enzo Fiermonte: Ex-Sheriff Novack (as Glenn Foster)

Mario Brega: Miguel Cortinas

Lola Gaos: Ruth Harmon

Ricardo Contales: Joe Harmon

Manuel Zarzo: Marty Hefner

Hugo Blanco: Deserter, Gomez Gang

Tito Garcia: Zacharias, Gomez Gang

Fernando Sanchez Polack: Doc, Gomez Gang (as F. Sanchez Polac)

Antonio Iranzo: Antonio, Gomez Gang

Jose Canalejas: Juan Valdez

Frank Brana: Wade Dempsey

Written by: James Donald Prindle (as Don Prindle), Jose Gutierrez Maesso (as Jose G. Maesso), & Eugenio Martin, based on the novel The Bounty Killer by Marvin H. Albert

Directed by: Eugenio Martin

Synopsis: Deputized bounty hunter Luke Chilson faces two obstacles in bringing in outlaw Jose Gomez: Gomez’s gang, and the citizens of his childhood small town, who believe him innocent. When Gomez’s true identity becomes apparent, the village will have to decide between loyalty and justice.

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While the Italians were cooking up their noted Westerns, the Spaniards were starting their own contributions to the genre at the same time. Spanish language Westerns weren’t too unusual, but the majority of films up until El Precio were done in Mexico, and influenced in one way or another with the Italian ones, the heavy standouts being films dealing with the supernatural starring Mexican matinee idol Gaston Santos. The Marchent family had gotten Spain into the flow of the Westerns, the successes of both Antes Llega des Muertes (Hour of Death) and Oscaso de un Pistoleros (Hands of a Gunfighter), and Alfonso Balcazar had just opened Spain’s equivalent of Rome’s Cinecitta Studios where a number of successful films, both Western and non-Western. El Precio was from the get-go a co-production between Spain and Italy like any other Western of the times, but this go around it was helmed by a Spanish director, Spanish writers, and a primarily Spanish cast. Using the classic American theme of a man seeking justice only to find that duty may result in innocent people suffering hard truths and facing harder loss, director Eugenio Martin gives the typical American story the Italian/European treatment, and gives the genre another interesting boost to its popularity.

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What makes this film unique in its own right, is that it was co-authored by an American writer. Little is known of James Donald Prindle, credited as Don Prindle, and his film credits only include this film, Mario Caiano’s Duello nel Texas (Duel at Texas/Gunfight at Red Sands/Gringo), and a 1946 short subject hosted by himself and radio personality Wendell Niles, and featured singers Johnny Mercer, Jerry Colonna, and Dick Foran. His involvement in the script probably extended to translating dialogue for Richard Wyler and helping to translate the novel for Eugenio Martin. He seemed to be a fairly talented fellow, and why he never did more will probably remain a mystery.

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Tomas Milian, in his first ever Western role, does an excellent job in the role of Jose Gomez. A seemingly normal young Mexican man forced into banditry by circumstances and racism, Gomez looks like a man wanting to live peacefully, given a raw deal in life. The locales of his childhood village have been led to believe Gomez fights for the oppressed in the same fashion of Robin Hood, Zorro, and The Scarlett Pimpernel, and has been vilified by the both the Mexican and US press. It’s quickly established that Gomez willingly went into a life of crime of his own choosing, and very frankly enjoys what he does. At first, he just seems different from being away so long, but as more and more unsavory characters who now ride with him, the locales begin to wonder about Gomez. When he orders the death of a former compadre, who refused to team up with him again, and he orders the bounty hunter looking to bring him in to be tortured, Gomez slowly begins to look less and less like a hero to the people he knows. At times, he does show affection for the locales, especially his childhood sweetheart, showing that this change occurred over time, and probably wasn’t intended. Milian, a graduate of the Actor’s Studio, shows why he exceled at what he learned by giving Gomez little habits and expressions that make the character unique.

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Richard Wyler, the brief pseudonym of British actor Richard Stapley, is surprisingly interesting in the role of Luke Chilson. The atypical American style bounty hunter character, Chilson is just a man earning a living, and bringing criminals attempting to cross the border between the US and Mexico, to justice. At first the locales take a stern dislike to Chilson, believing he’s going after a wrongly accused man in Gomez, and both try to convince him he’s wrong, and try to drive him out of town. At first Chilson seems to be single-minded in the pursuit of Gomez, and interested primarily in the $3000 on his head, but Chilson is fully aware of the crimes Gomez has committed, including several needless killings, including those of the federal agents escorting Gomez to jail. When the locales injur Chilson, and Gomez and his gang begin to beat him repeatedly, they begin to realize he was probably right in in bringing the man in. Chilson also begins to realize how close Gomez was to the townspeople, and how he was a pillar of the community, sensing almost too late the tragic outcome of what he’ll have to do to stop Gomez from reaching Mexico.

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Halina Zalewska, a Swiss Italian character actress, who died tragically young in a fire, is simple, but effective as Eden. Gomez’s girlfriend since they were children, Eden believes Gomez to be innocent of all the charges lobbied against him and gets him a gun to escape. At first she’s happy to have the love of her life back, but she senses early on he seems different than he was before Realizing from Chilson she has unwittingly aided Gomez in the murder of federal agents, Eden begins to doubt Gomez is the same man he was when he left, especially after he kills another man sweet on her, and doesn’t seem to mind when his gang begin looting the town. What makes the situation especially hard for her is the fact that Gomez still displays occasional affection for her as he had before.

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Quite radical in its showing of law enforcement as a necessity, and sometimes the outlaw isn’t the romantic folk hero he’s boasted to be, El Precio is an interesting entry in the Italo/Euro Western genre. Something of a slow burner in that it builds up to the climax, the character build up, and the revelations that come about as the story unfolds make the build up pay off in the long run. Tomas Milian, who was said to overplay his first Western role, actually is very restrained, but still puts in the touches that made him the success he would become in Italian genre cinema. Richard Wyler was believed to not have the face for Westerns, but his face was a melding between Laurence Harvey and Walter Pidgeon, making for a unique look that did in fact fit into the realm of the Old West. The other characters aren’t one dimensional at all, and have a mixture of genuine sincerity, naivety, and flaws, not completely likable, but completely detestable in their blind loyalty to Gomez, and are clearly shattered and disillusioned by the events.  A little more story driven than action driven, the film still works on many levels and is the perfect hybrid between the American West and the European West.

(I highly recommend this one for fans of Westerns, Tomas Milian, and anyone looking for something interesting and different. It’s quite different from what most fans are used to, but is still very entertaining and offers a totally different view of the characters audiences of the Italian West would come to love. The Artus Films Blu Ray is magnificent looking in quality and has fine visual and audio transfers. English speaking audiences will be disappointed to learn that only the Spanish and French are available, but the French subtitles are easy to understand as the Italian and French alphabet is similar to English, save in vowels and certain prepositions. There is a US DVD double bill with the film and Milian’s Comedy Western Sonny and Jed, and a an out of print German DVD that’s English friendly.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images, Spaghetti-Western.net and YouTube

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060853/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ugly_Ones

Buying options

https://www.amazon.fr/Tueurs-lOuest-%C3%89dition-Collector-Blu-ray/dp/B07P83ZGCX/ref=sr_1_1?__mk_fr_FR=%C3%85M%C3%85%C5%BD%C3%95%C3%91&crid=576J8RLVSF2I&keywords=tomas+milian+blu+ray&qid=1565203892&s=dvd&sprefix=Tomas+M%2Caps%2C226&sr=1-1

https://www.artusfilms.com/western-europeen/les-tueurs-de-l-ouest-287

https://www.amazon.com/Sonny-Ugly-Ones-Tomas-Milian/dp/B01M0XXMDD/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=tomas+milian+dvd&qid=1565203848&s=movies-tv&sr=1-2

 

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