8 February 1999 | bruce3
Above average Spaghetti Western.
"A Pistol for Ringo" is an above-average Spaghetti Western. The anti-hero (Gemma) and villain (Sancho) are both very charismatic, and each has a good sense of humor. The basic plot situation is interesting: Fleeing from a bank hold-up in which their leader was wounded, a gang of bandits takes refuge at a farm. Although the farm is surrounded, the posse cannot attack because of the hostages. The anti-hero is highly paid to infiltrate and destroy the gang, and recover the money. The film has some unusual twists; for example, the bandits are executing two hostages per day, even after the anti-hero joins the gang, and he makes no effort to halt the executions. There is an interesting contrast between the behavior of the anti-hero (Gemma) and the sheriff (Martin) who behaves like a traditional Western hero. The film has a nice music score by Ennio Morricone. But somehow, this film failed to fully satisfy this viewer. The heroine is dull and bland, too much of the film takes place at the farm, and the anti-hero kills the villain in an absurd manner. There are also some gaps of logic-why didn't the bandits lock the sheriff in his jail? In any event, the film was such a financial success that the seven principal actors were reunited in "The Return of Ringo" (a sequel in name only, since all characters were different). This review of "A Pistol for Ringo" is based on the (poorly) English-dubbed home video version, titled "Ballad of Death Valley." The video suffers greatly from lack of widescreen; for example, the first shootout has Ringo against four opponents at once, but all you can see on the TV screen is Ringo and one of the opponents, so you don't even know who drew first. If you want to see this film, try to see it in widescreen.