Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

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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

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