- 1h 33min
Renegade Indians, led by Yellow Hand, are being sold guns by Donaldson. Buffalo Bill is sent to stop the arms trading and avert an Indian warRenegade Indians, led by Yellow Hand, are being sold guns by Donaldson. Buffalo Bill is sent to stop the arms trading and avert an Indian warRenegade Indians, led by Yellow Hand, are being sold guns by Donaldson. Buffalo Bill is sent to stop the arms trading and avert an Indian war
Which was to find a wholesome heroic good guy for Gordon Scott to play in an early spaghetti western. And he plays Cody pretty much as he played the Son of Hercules: Strapping, brawny, beefy, but surprisingly intelligent, insightful, and considerate of even the guy whom he beats the stuffing out of in a bar room brawl. He is almost insufferably good, working for the native Indians to live side by side with his fellow Palefaces and keep the two sides from massacring each other.
Once you get down to it the basic premise of the film has been lifted more from the Winnetou/Old Shatterhand films from Germany & Yugoslavia which precipitated the Italian/Spanish spaghetti western boom. Gordon Scott's appearance and mannerism is almost a dead ripoff of Lex Barker's Shatterhand, though there's no Winnetou analog. Instead the film seems to want to experiment with putting this Shatterhand surrogate into some of the trappings of what would become the spaghetti western approach.
Which is one of the things that makes the film unique -- a genuine Hero, rather than an ambiguous Anti-Hero, and Scott was well prepared for the undertaking. Sure, it's silly and potentially offensive to see Spanish supporting actors dressed up like Injun braves and dubbed by voice actors with mid-Atlantic quasi British accents. What the film may lack in terms of authenticity it makes up for with wide-eyed innocence, and they even have Scott ride off waving to the crowd in the end to the applause & cheers of those he had saved, just like in his Maciste films. Not something you'd see Clint Eastwood do, that's for sure.
The film was most likely made in 1964 as the Italian Peplum sword & sandal era was coming to an end, and from the looks of it the producing studio apparently figured that by bringing along one of their most popular Peplum matinée stars they'd be able to translate the medium into a western and be guaranteed a hit. The production standards of the film are respectfully robust and there's quite a large supporting cast; they spent some money on this one, and while voters on the IMDb may not have thought much of the results it's a shame that they didn't get a little film series out of the effort.
One of the problems was Gordon Scott, who made one more Euro western for Albert Band, the tragic Spanish romantic range drama THE TRAMPLERS which isn't nearly half as much fun as this one. Rumor has it that while preparing to make a third western Scott's nose was broken by co-star Mario Brega (who plays a Bud Spencer-ish lummox rogue in this one) and found the disfigurement ruinous to his photogenic looks. Scott made two more action/adventure films of the spy genre ilk and abruptly retired from the industry in late 1965, the year this film was released.
The spaghetti genre itself had also changed by the time this film was circulating, with the more stylish approaches of DJANGO and Sergio Leone's "Dollar" films making the more traditionalist approach seen here look a bit old fashioned by comparison. And that's exactly why I adore it: Here's a spaghetti western from the infancy of the genre when they were still making movies about good guys & bad guys, Injuns and the cavalry, and a do-gooder hero designed to be rooted for like he was Audie Murphy or something. The change of pace is quite refreshing.
7/10: Something Weird Video apparently has a widescreen English version on VHS & DVD-R, which you can order directly from their website. Take a look.
- Mar 31, 2009