Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

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

Cool News I Forgot to Mention: I’m in Print!!!!

by Tony Nash

To all my Followers, those I’m Following, and all Curious Visitors,

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of the Italian Western genre, and I used to have a series on here called Western Wednesdays which many of you have noticed hasn’t been done in a long, long, time. That is because thanks to a very nice man named Mike Hauss, all my Italian Western write-ups are done for his fantastic self published Digest, called the Spaghetti Western Digest.

Cover Sample with Mike’s Logo (from Rubber Axe webzine)

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to participate in issue #1 as I didn’t get to speak with Mike until the issue was published, but I have been a proud collaborator on Mike’s work since issue #2. It’s a nice varied mix of film reviews, spotlights on specific actors, actresses, writers, directors, composters, etc, special topics, Issue 3’s one article on unmade films is very fascinating. Usually I’m not a self-promotor, but I really enjoy the efforts Mike puts in to make the Digest what it is and all the fabulous writers who contact Mike to make contributions. So many fans of the genre, including me, want to keep this going, so any help we can give Mike to keep the books selling is all worth it to bring the genre to new audiences. While its a book by fans for fans of the Italian Westerns, I believe non-aficionados will find something to enjoy with the Digests as well, so I hope any of the fine people who follow my blog will give them a read at some point. Mike is currently working on getting Issue #5 prepped for release.

Filed under: Annoucements

The Undercover Sheriff

by Tony Nash

A Movie Fan Man Special for THE FOREIGN WESTERN BLOGATHON

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Spoilers Ahead)

(Write Up is of the Original Italian Language Version)

Italian Poster (from lifeatfarm)

Una Bara per lo Sceriffo (A Coffin for the Sheriff/Lone and Angry Man) (1965) **** PG-13

Anthony Steffen: Sheriff ‘Texas’ Joe Logan

Eduardo Fajardo: Russell Murdock

Armando Calvo: Lupe Rojo (Red Wolf)

Arturo Dominici: Jerry Krueger (as Arthur Kent)

Fulvia Franco: Lulu Belle

Luciana Gilli: Miss Jane Wilson

George Rigauld: Mr. Wilson (as George Rigault)

Maria Vico: Elsie, Rojo’s Woman

Lucio De Santis: Mulligan, Rojo Henchman (as Bob Johnson)

Frank Brana: David, Rojo Henchman (as Francisco Bragna)

Miguel del Castillo: Sheriff Gallagher (as Migule del Castillo)

Jesus Tordesillas: Old Man Sven

Written by: David Moreno & Guido Malatesta (as James Reed)

Directed by: Mario Caiano (as Mario Cajano)

Synopsis: ‘Texas’ Joe Logan comes to town to join up with the ruthless Mexican bandit Lupe Rojo (Red Wolf). After successfully completing an initiation that involved hunting down and killing a failing gang member, Logan slowly works his way through the ranks. Unbeknownst to his friends who think he’s gone bad, Logan is really a Sheriff working undercover to not only break-up Rojo’s ruthless band of cutthroats, but to take out a particular member who murdered Logan’s wife sometime earlier.

A Figure Stares at Lupe Rojo’s Wanted Poster (from Wikipedia)

The popular Western motif of a Lawman going undercover or seemingly gone rouge to either: bring down a dangerous and ruthless outlaw and his gang, get some personal revenge on one or many of the gang, or even a combination of all of the above gets a very interesting and entertaining spin by the Italians. The Spaghetti Western genre was in the early stages of its giant boom thanks to Sergio Leone’s Per un Pugno di Dollari (A Fistful of Dollars) in 1964 and by 1965 at least half of all genre films made and released in Italy were Westerns. Una Bara per lo Sceriffo is one of the bridges in mixing taking cues from the American Westerns and the hard hitting gritty style the Italian Western would come to specialize in. It’s not too gritty, but at the same time doesn’t feel like that much of an imitation of an American Western, giving it a unique voice all its own.

Logan Getting Grilled by Rojo and Kreuger (from AvaxHome)

Sheriff ‘Texas’ Joe Logan is quite different from the usual lawman going incognito to track down ruthless outlaws in that he’s not above or afraid of breaking a few rules to get the job done. Given that the quarry are the kind of bad guys who would kill someone at the first hint they were double-crossers or traitors, having to go outside the normal methods isn’t too out of the ordinary. This is the first of the differences as American audiences of the time would’ve been quite shocked to see a Sheriff using the tactics Logan does. The two other noticeable motifs fans will see is the big businessman or politician who uses his position to double-cross the town, revealing he’s in fact working with the bandits and of course an ex flame of the hero who’s shockingly found to be in a relationship with one of the gang members. How the screenwriters spice up these motifs is that the high-up man isn’t one of those types who came upon a get rich quick scheme that he couldn’t pass up, but was a trickster from the start, looking to fleece the town the moment he got there, a so well hidden two-faced agenda, even the head bandit is fooled. Not too much is different with the ex flame story arc, save that the woman knows the bad guy is a bad guy and seems to have lost her morality in telling what is dangerous from what is skittish and is honest, but somehow is still a good woman for the most part.

Logan Faces Off Against the Odds (from Wikipedia)
Murdock Realizes the Jig is Up (from IMDb)

The film marks the first pairing of Italian Western regulars Anthony Steffen and Eduardo Fajardo, which led to four more films together. While the Italian-Brazilian Steffen has often been criticized as a ‘Wooden Poor Man’s Clint Eastwood’, here, and in 4 films this reviewer can name straightaway, gives one of the better performances of his career. His emotions are few in the film, but there’s a stoic and hard edge about the character Joe Logan that makes him very interesting to follow him around on his quest for vengeance and justice. There’s also a solid loving and caring side to Logan as he does his best to protect his friend Wilson and the man’s daughter Jane and the concern he shows to old flame Lulu Belle when he realizes she’s gotten herself involved with a bad guy. Steffen’s screen presence is used to great effect in the film, and the lack of emotion makes him able to sneak into the gang with ease. Spanish acting legend Eduardo Fajardo, one of the top two villains of the SW genre, gives another of his solid performances here in his first time playing gunslinger Russell Murdock. Usually Fajardo was the fancy dressed aristocratic like villain or a corrupt military man, but here he’s the traditional black-clad gunman with a chip on his shoulder. The 2nd in command to Rojo, Murdock is a sadistic brute who has no problem getting his hands dirty when robbing or killing, even doing little side jobs on his own. It’s shown early on that its Murdock that Lulu Belle is courting, Logan only having a vague knowledge of it. Logan keeps a watchful eye on Murdock, more because Murdock was involved in Logan’s past, though only Logan remembers.

(Author’s Note: For some reason in the English dubbed version, the Steffen character is called Shenandoah, even though if you look clearly at the other characters’ mouths moving, they clearly refer to him as ‘Texas’ Joe Logan in one variant or another. I imagine this big change was due to the success of the James Stewart Frontier Drama Shenandoah that came out the same year.

Lupe Rojo Shows He Doesn’t Play Around (from Trailers From Hell)

Puerto Rican actor Armando Calvo, an often overlooked figure in the Italian Western genre, is as excellent a villain as Eduardo Fajardo in the role of bandit leader Lupe Rojo. Although Fajardo gets 2nd billing after Steffen, it’s really Calvo’s Rojo who ‘s in charge of the gang. Rojo is quite a bit like the traditional Mexican Bandido in that he’s ruthless and has no pity for his victims. He also has a high amount of machismo as he treats his girlfriend more like something he owns rather than a romantic partner. Calvo plays Rojo with a devious intelligence, making him a really dangerous individual to tangle with, whether he’s the intended quarry or a bonus if the intended target is riding with him. While he has a partnership with the big shot Krueger, Rojo keeps just as close an eye on him as the rest of his gang, ending petty squabbles by threatening to kill anyone who disrupts the gang’s infrastructure. Rojo’s smarts are put to the test when Joe Logan looks to get payback on one of his goons for the death of Logan’s wife, while also putting an end to Rojo’s reign of terror.

Logan Joins in on a Rojo Bunch Card Game (from Wikipedia)

While the film deals in a fairly simple plotline with no twists or surprises, it’s executed in a very well done fashion. The suspense in wondering who Logan is after and how he’ll get out of a situation when his ruse is discovered by the gang is plenty to keep audiences intrigued and entertained. The shootouts aren’t at the standard the SW genre is known for, but the few that are are choreographed well. One dimensional characters are non existent in the film, each performer bringing in a nice amount of depth and complexity to his and her role, giving audiences enough reason to cheer and root for, boo at, and feel sympathy for. Some may rightly say it’s generic, but the director, screenwriters, and cast really make the simplicity shine bright.

Original Italian Opening (from SPACETREK66)

First off, I’d like to give a special shout out and thanks to Miss MOON GEMINI herself Debbi for starting up this interesting Blogathon and for letting me be a part of it and to share some of my love of the Italian Western. I highly recommend this one as a good starting point if any fans are looking for something a little different to fair by Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci as it offers up a classic storyline a lot of people know and is told in a different and exciting way. There used to be a US DVD release of the film from the company Wild East, but they sadly closed up shop at the start of this year, and the DVD has since gone out of print. There is a German DVD that has both the English dub and the original Italian audio track, but unfortunately only has German subtitles.

From My Personal Collection

The Italian version offers up the better narrative in my opinion, but fans can watch whichever version best suits them. If anyone is interested in the German disc, it is Region 2, so you’ll either need to get an All Region Blu Ray or DVD player, or you can play it on your laptop as they aren’t region locked. I highly recommend the German disc as it has a nice and crisp transfer with solid video and audio. Or you can check out the film here

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

for more info

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058942/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

https://www.spaghetti-western.net/index.php/Bara_per_lo_sceriffo,_Una

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

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Una_bara_per_lo_sceriffo

For those interested in the German DVD

https://alive-ag.de/gesamtkatalog/9169/eine-bahre-fuer-den-sheriff?c=347

https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/movie/detail/-/art/eine-bahre-fuer-den-sheriff/hnum/4276699

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics