Spaghetti Westerns Disc 5

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.

This flick gets into trouble right off the bat, as you see portions of the credits—and it becomes clear that the approach to pan&scan used was, apparently, just to take the central portion of the wide-screen shot regardless. There are scenes where the person speaking is entirely cut off to the left; you can’t read any of the cast names; it’s a little bizarre.

Which is a reasonable description of the film itself, a farce that tries a little too hard. Trinity is a sailor from Trinidad who somehow finds himself an outlaw in Texas, but with a bad habit of giving away whatever money he steals—and having lots of seaside dreams involving a certain woman. Sartana is a wisecracking Texas outlaw who can shoot like nobody’s business…and who somehow keeps partnering with Trinity although he should know better. There’s a third partner at one point, an aging lunatic who rides a wagon with a player piano (and, as needed, a hand-cranked machine gun…). The film also includes some obese Fancy Ladies, a Mexican gangleader who appears wholly incompetent and lots of other hapless villains. There’s lots of fancy shooting but nobody ever actually gets shot; when there’s actually a showdown, all the fancy shooters use nothing but fists (and chairs and other objects); there’s a certain amount of self-reference and it’s all very silly. The score is, well, awful. Apparently there are Spaghetti Western series starring characters named Trinity and Sartana, respectively, in which case this is mostly a bad ripoff (with no relationship to the series).

Decent print except for the absurdly bad cropping. I found it more silly than funny, but you may have different tastes. Charitably, $0.75.

Find a Place to Die (orig. Joe… cercati un posto per morire! or Joe…searched for a place to die!), 1968, color. Giuliano Carnimeo (dir.), Jeffrey Hunter, Pascale Petit, Giovanni Pallavicino (“Gordon York”), Reza Fazeli, Nello Pazzafini (“Ted Carter”), Adolfo Lastretti (“Peter Lastrett”). 1:29.

As the film begins, a young woman and older man are shooting it out with a scattered but large gang, apparently trying to protect a run-down house. They’re actually trying to protect a gold mine in Mexico, and the woman is quite vocally unhappy about her husband’s decision to abandon his university job in New Orleans to find and reopen this mine.

The battle ends with the guy tossing bundles of dynamite out to wipe out the rest of the band—and, in the process, starting off an avalanche that winds up with him trapped by a half-ton log. Nothing to do but have his wife try to get help in a tiny little former-village a two-day ride away…

Which she does. The village is now inhabited by a loose band of mostly semi-outlaws, one woman with a great voice and guitar, and an American who’s basically a drunk but used to be an officer (before he was court-martialed for shooting somebody he thought deserved it). He’s also a gunrunner, but never mind… She needs four people to come rescue her husband; since the promised payment comes from a bag full of gold nuggets, everybody figures out that there’s a mine out there for the taking. The American, first refusing the job, notes that the area is ruled by “Chato’s gang”—particularly vicious thieves who love to torture and rape.

The rest of the movie? The band, all of whom mistrust one another (for good reason) and who’ve been joined by a particularly questionable preacher, make their way back. Along the way, there’s some nudity and almost rape (of course, a beautiful young married woman from New Orleans would think nothing of going for a nude swim in the evening when her only companions are four thugs and one semi-good-guy!) Plot spoilers ahead: They’re too late for the husband—and the gang has taken the gold. The rest of the flick has to do with attempts to retrieve the gold.

Funny thing is, it’s a pretty good movie. It’s widescreen, the score is particularly effective, there’s lots of good scenery, it’s less flamboyant and more atmospheric than most and with one exception, only bad guys get killed (of course, almost everybody in the movie’s a bad guy). I give it $1.50.

Johnny Yuma, 1966, color. Romolo Guerrieri (dir.), Mark Damon, Lawrence Dobkin, Rosalba Neri, Luigi Vannucchi/Louis Vanner, Fidel Gonzales, Leslie Daniels. 1:40 [1:35]

I have to say, this one was impressive if also a little depressing at times. Widescreen, excellent print, good music—and, oddly, no credits at either the start or end of the movie. (Maybe that’s the missing five minutes?) A rancher (who also keeps the local town going) is wheelchair-bound and sending for his nephew, Johnny Yuma (although Yuma’s not his real last name) to run the ranch. His much younger wife wants her brother to take over—and arranges to have the rancher shot. She sends for a guy name of Carradine (possibly a tribute to one of the stars of The Rebel, the TV show about Johnny Yuma?) who’s an ex-lover and who she expects to kill Yuma—for a fee.

Why kill him? Well, if he’s gone, then she clearly inherits the ranch, which she’s already arranged to sell for a fortune. There’s no will (or, well, actually there is one, a small but interesting plot point). Complicating matters: Her brother and his people are vicious—and, early on, Carradine and Yuma exchange pistols and holsters after dealing with a saloon full of crooked gamblers.

Lots of fancy shooting. Too much physical abuse. An odd would-be sidekick who keeps turning up. Great scenery. Well-made—good direction, fine cinematography. Generally good acting. A reasonably natural pace with very little nonsense. Unusually satisfying ending. The plot even makes sense. The theme song…well, I guess they couldn’t license Johnny Cash’s version, so there’s a very odd new song with the same name. All things considered, I’ll give it $1.75.

Fistful of Lead (orig. C’è Sartana… vendi la pistola e comprati la bara or There’s Sartana…sell the gun and buy the coffin or I Am Sartana, Trade Your Guns for a Coffin), 1970, color. Giuliano Carnimeo (dir.), George Hilton, Charles Southwood, Erika Blanc, Piero Lulli/Peter Carter, Linda Sini, Nello Pazzafini, Carlo Gaddi, Aldo Barberito. 1:33.

The first movie on this last disc was apparently a spoof intended to capitalize on the characters in two series of Spaghetti Westerns, Trinity and Sartana. To wind up the collection, we get one of the real films with Sartana—and Sabbath, his nemesis/compatriot/white hat to his black hat. (Sabbath’s a strange dude, what with the white parasol and constant poetry reading.)

The plot has to do with a mining company that keeps losing miners’ gold shipments to bandits—but, as becomes fairly obvious fairly soon, the shipments carry sand, not gold. We get a Mexican bandit gang, an evil company owner, various other evil folks—and Sartana, who seems mostly to crave freshly-cooked eggs but can outwit and outshoot any seven men at once.

Lots of trick shooting. Lots of uneven odds. Lots of temporary doomed alliances. Thoroughly enjoyable, with a semi-coherent plot, no gratuitous gore or explicit violence (other than the usual cartoon shootings), good music, reasonably good acting. Not widescreen, but a good print that makes the most of the many close-ups in this flick. $1.75.

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