50 Movie Gunslinger Classics Disc 4

The Hanged Man, 1974, color (TV movie). Michael Caffey (dir.), Steve Forrest, Dean Jagger, Will Geer, Sharon Acker, Brendan Boone, Rafael Campos, BarBara Luna, Cameron Mitchell. 1:13.

Although I knew I’d seen this earlier (seven years earlier), I also knew I gave it an unusually high $2.00 rating and decided it might be worth seeing again.

Which it was. The hanged man (Steve Forrest) is a gunslinger, probably wrongly convicted of murder; he’s a cool customer during preparations for the hanging. Then he’s hanged, and declared dead. But he’s not quite dead (maybe because the doctor gave him loads of laudanum?). In a parallel plot (joined because of a common lawyer, Dean Jagger), a woman (Sharon Acker) is in town with her son to bury her husband, who “accidentally” died at the mine she doesn’t want to sell to the local silver baron (Cameron Mitchell). The silver baron will stop at nothing to force her to sell him the mine—and the hanged man winds up in the middle..

The movie moves at a natural pace. It develops toward an appropriate climax (although at the end we’re left wondering what might come next; it was apparently a series pilot)—and it’s even reasonably believable. I found it thoroughly enjoyable, for the scenery, the acting, the cast, the cinematography, the script. The print is about as perfect as you’ll find on these sets. It’s an unusual, moody Western, and I think it’s worth the full $2.00.

Trinity and Sartana…Those Dirty Sons of Bitches, (orig. Trinità e Sartana figli di… or “Trinity and Sartana children…“), 1972, color. Mario Siciliano (dir.), Alberto Dell’Acqua (as “Robert Widmark”), Harry Baird, Beatrice Pella, Stelio Candelli, Dante Maggio (as “Dan May”), Ezio Marano (as “Alan Abbott”). 1:42.

In this case, I’d seen the flick three years ago—and it was not worth watching again.

The One-Eyed Soldiers, 1966, color. John Ainsworth (dir.), Dale Robertson, Luciana Paluzzi, Guy Degby, Andrew Faulds, Mile Avramovic, Mirko Boman. 1:23 (1:14).

A doctor with the UN Relief Medical Organization is being chased by bad guys and falls off a tower in a Central European nation. With his last breaths, he says something like “18 July one-eyed soldiers.” And with that, we’re off and running in a caper that takes place during one evening, one night and the next morning and afternoon. There’s a beautiful young woman (the doctor’s daughter), a journalist and a fat man—all on a train, all about to cross a border, but then the border’s closed. The plot involves a little person with bad teeth who’s a Syndicate head looking for the key to $15 million in a Swiss lockbox (I guess); the doctor was acting as a courier but took off with the key. The fat man is after it. I’m not quite sure how the daughter and journalist are involved—but before the film is halfway over, they certainly are involved.

A fair amount of gunplay, nonstop chases and the like, and about as happy an ending as you might expect. It’s not exactly a classic (and I’m not even sure I have the plot right), but it moves right along, the print’s decent and it’s not a bad way to spend 75 minutes. It’s a Yugoslavian film. What it’s doing in a “Gunslinger” collection is anybody’s guess. $1.25.

Mad Dog Morgan, 1976, color. Philippe Mora (dir.), Dennis Hopper, Jack Thomson, David Gulphil. 1:42 [1:38]

I suppose this Dennis Hopper showcase (if he’s not in every frame, it’s close) is a legitimate “gunslinger” item—he’s holding guns a lot of the time and it’s set in the Old VERY West—1850s-60s in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia (filmed in Australia). He plays Daniel Morgan, an Irishman who voluntarily moves to Australia to “seek his fortune” and, after not having much luck with goldmining, decides that highway robbery is the way to go. He gets caught and sentenced to 12 years at hard labor in a horrifying island prison; he’s paroled after six years. (Before turning robber, he takes delight in smoking opium in the mining camp’s Chinatown section. He gets his hand branded at the prison, and he’s treated brutally…)

Post-prison, our upstanding hero becomes a “bushranger,” a kind of semi-lovable robber who only robs from those who have money (which makes sense). Supposedly, he’s “vowed revenge,” but it’s not clear what that means. He does kill people, but hey, none of us are perfect. He’s clearly a bit around the bend—more than a bit as time goes on. Eventually, he’s hunted down and killed. End of story. It’s apparently based on a true story.

I kept waiting for this film to develop a heart or some plot beyond “lovable desperado eventually gets shot,” or for that matter some reason we’d love this “rogue.” Maybe I’m not sufficiently enamored of Hopper’s acting? Maybe Australians will find this more interesting? Good scenery, but at most I found it mediocre and maybe worth $1.00.

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