1. Una nuvola di polvere... un grido di morte... arriva Sartana / Light the Fuse... Sartana Is Coming (Giuliano Carnimeo, 1970)
2. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Sam Peckinpah, 1974)
3. Arizona Colt (Michele Lupo, 1966)
4. Kid Blue (James Frawley, 1973)
5. Bandidos / You Die... But I Live (Massimo Dallamano, 1967)
6. Robin Hood of El Dorado (William A. Wellman, 1936)
7. Al este del oeste (Mariano Ozores, 1984)
8. Dio perdona... Io no! / God Forgives...I Don't! (Giuseppe Colizzi, 1967)
9. Le colt cantarono la morte e fu... tempo di massacro / Massacre Time (Lucio Fulci, 1966)
10. California (Michele Lupo, 1977)
11. I quattro dell'Ave Maria / Ace High
(Giuseppe Colizzi, 1968)
This is more like it. After a string of just ok to mm, pretty good but still lacking something films in this genre, this month, we have a winner. Not quite AWESOME, not quite on the level of the best of the three Sergios, but still a pretty solid entry, thanks in no small part to American actors Eli Wallach and Brock Peters and their very enjoyable formation of an outlaw (but basically sorta kinda good guys) foursome with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, reprising their characters (or at least character names) Cat and Hutch from Dio perdona... Io no!
, This I think is really the beginnings of what made Spencer & Hill successful and it certainly carries through to the two Trinity
films which followed shortly after this. But it's the addition of Peters (in a significant, but supporting role) and Wallach (really the star) that bumps this up a few notches. Wallach is one of those guys who automatically improves any film he's in, and Peters and villain Kevin McCarthy (who's only in the last quarter of the film) add plenty of flavor as well. The story? Wallach is a criminally recently condemned to death who somehow contrives to rob a bank, kill the manager, escape, and then get away from bounty hunters Hill and Hutch, but eventually teaming up with them and circus acrobat Peters to pull a really big job on a casino run by cheater McCarthy. This is really an expert mix of comedy and western action, with only the single (albeit significant) flaw of overlength. Just one or two too many escapes and double crosses for my taste and at over 2 hours it gets to feel a wee bit repetitive.
12. La collina degli stivali / Boot Hill
(Giuseppe Colizzi, 1969)
Next year's Cat and Hutch follow-up, also with a trio of American stars (Woody Strode, Lionel Stander, Victor Buono), is unfortunately much less successful. While this is also billed as a comedy and Spencer and HIll are playing the same characters, it really doesn't have a lot of humor and it's overall fairly unpleasant, even depressing. It's also set largely in and around a travelling circus, and I"m not much of a circus fan (at least in movies) so that may be part of it for me. Strode is really good and is the heart of this film, as the acrobat who more or less manages things under owner Stander. Something here just didn't gel, and I started to forget about it almost immediately after finishing it. Meh.
13. Road Agent
(Lesley Selander, 1952)
I've seen just a handful of Tim Holt's many westerns. Like Allen Ladd he wasn't exactly physically prepossessing, but made quite a good career in tough masculine type roles, though never ascending to anywhere near Ladd's level of stardom, consigned almost entirely to the b-western with just a few exceptions like The Magnificent Ambersons
and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
. I don't know anything about the guy's offscreen life but he really seems to have aged a lot more than a decade in between his youthful Ambersons
performance and this very middle-aged seeming typical cowpoke role. It doesn't help that the film in question is really week, a mixture of low comedy - often at the expense of slow-witted stereotypical "Mexican" sidekick Chito (Richard Martin) and fairly stupid plotting, involving cowpokes Tim (he goes by his real name here, something fairly common in these kinds of 1 hour westerns made for pocket change) and Chito having to pay a toll to pass by the ranch of the big cheese in the area, deciding they don't want to pay, and becoming Robin Hoods to give back the toll money to the other ranchers in the area. Really weak and silly.
14. ¡Mátalo! / Kill Him!
(Cesare Canivari, 1970)
Interesting and very highly stylized film involving a gang that holes up in a mysterious ghost town, apparently inhabited only by an old woman, after the (apparent) leader of the gang has been busted out of jail, murdered all the people who busted him out, then joined up with the other two scumbags, with loads of gold. There's also a beautiful young woman (Claudia Gravy), and a mysterious boomerang-wielding stranger (Lou Castel) and lots of other weirdness... at times this feels more like a gothic horror film, with a weird soundtrack by Mario Migliardi that doesn't bear much resemblance to the typical Morricone or his disciples, and more jarring uses of zooms and fast pans than we see in Leone. It's hard to say what it all adds up to, it's rather incoherent at times and has a certain drugged-out feeling to it, but it's certainly one of the more interesting genre films I've seen lately.
15. Joko invoca Dio... e muori / Vengeance
(Antonio Margheriti, 1968)
I fell in love with Margheriti a few years ago when I re-watched Il mondo di Yor
- liking it much more than I had back in the 80s - and watched most of his 60s science fiction work, particularly the "Gamma Quadrilogy" from 1966-7. Margheriti, like so many Italian genre directors of the era, did whatever paid the bucks, but like many others he had his own interests and specialties - science fiction/fantasy in his case, just as the Sergios specialized in the western and Mario Bava in horror. And when most of these guys step outside of their comfort zones, the results usually aren't the best. Case in point - while this tale of (you guessed it) vengeance is competently told, and offers a nice hero in Richard Harrison, it's basic plot of a man out to kill the five men who are responsible for his brother's death (which opens the film and is definitely a highlight) is pretty old and tired, and one that needs somebody really committed to juice it up. This just doesn't cut it though it's watchable enough.
16. Joe l'implacabile / Dynamite Joe
(Antonio Margheriti, 1967)
Significantly more entertaining, Margheriti's first western (of a half-dozen total) concerns, basically, a guy named Joe Ford whose trademark is his use of dynamite to save all of life's pesky problems, like bandits and basically just any old bad guy that most people would shoot. Joe it turns out is actually a US government agent, tasked with protecting a huge shipment of gold from raiders that have been plundering the mail and stage routes. Turns out (this should be no surprise) that one of the people he's working for is actually behind it all, and wants to set him up as the traitor. Lots of crossing-double-crossing, explosions, and some secret-spy-stuff as well - this has more than a little Wild Wild West
or even James Bond flare to it - Margheriti also made quite a few Eurospy films starting around this time, so no surprises. American actor Rik Van Nutter (nope, I hadn't heard of him either), who spent nearly all of his career in Europe, is a charming lead here, and the film definitely gives the vibe of being part of or the beginning of a series, though it wasn't. Pretty cool overall.