14 October 2006 | rmahaney4
Early Western alla' italiana
This early Italian westerns title Sfida a Rio Bravo (1965) gives away the inspiration for this movie, Howard Hawk's Rio Bravo (1959), which was very popular in Italy. Guy Madison stands in for John Wayne while Gerard Tichy plays the drunken friend on the mend. This movie is a decent if unremarkable b-western from early in the Cinecitta western cycle. While it is clearly influenced by Leone's Per un pungo di dollari (1964), both stylistically and in terms of the motives for it's production, it is not based as much in those stylistic conventions that would soon come to define the genre as later films in the genre. As the Americanized pseudonyms for actors, directors, and composers in these early WAI suggest, there was an initial impulse to pass off these movies as an American product. However, as movies by Leone and Corbucci found an international audience, it later became more important to imitate their movies than the earlier American models. However, in 1965 and 1966 these conventions were not completely established and there were a number of films like Sfida a Rio Bravo (1965).
Though this is an early WAI and at first glance appears to be simply an antiquated imitation of the American original, there are a number of euro-western motifs derived largely from Leone's Dollars trilogy. Wyatt Earp is stalked from a distance by gunmen that haunt the ridges of the canyons, there is the focus on mirrors, confused or concealed identities, traps that use misdirection and misperception, feints and hidden alliances; these are all typical WAI elements. Even Lavagnino's score, which appears so imitative of the American example, has moments which are clearly inspired by Morricone.
The most interesting narrative element of this movie is the difference between those characters who are honorable, whether lawmen or outlaws, and those that are not. Wyatt Earp and the bandit Bogan can respect each other because they do not hide their intentions, but the judge and powerful Zach Williams are dishonorable because their actions are concealed. This is an old western trope, but is fairly well done here. The fistfight between Bogan and Earp is one the best scenes in the movie.
Overall, the action sequences are handled pretty well while the characterization and story are pretty standard American b-western fare, though even more artificial. The last gunfight is well done if conventional. As with many of the lesser WAI, this movie will be of interest only to genre fans as long as they are not expecting Leone.
Top spaghetti western list http://imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=21849907
Average SWs http://imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=21849889
For fanatics only (bottom of the barrel) http://imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=21849890