50 Movie Gunslinger Classics, Disc 1

I’m afraid the set isn’t off to an encouraging start, but things should get better…

Dead Aim (orig. Arde baby, arde), 1975, color. José Bolaños (dir.), Glen Lee, Venetia Vianello, James Westerfield, Virgil Frye. 1:37 [1:27]

I’m tempted to say this spaghetti western (filmed in Mexico, an Italian/Mexican co-production) has continuity problems, but that would suggest more continuity than I found. It starts in the old west with a guy coming home, finding his wife and infant gone (and his wife’s horse), riding out after them, and in the ensuing gunfight (she’s ridden off with another man), everybody dying except the infant Johnny…who’s rescued by John Applebee, a curious old roving undertaker.

He grows up digging graves and wondering when the undertaker will ever cash in the receipts he gets for each body he buries—apparently at the end of the Civil War, when the government will pay him some amount for each receipt. Sometimes, when there aren’t corpses handy, Johnny helps matters along by getting into bar fights (he’s a crack shot of course). He thinks they should rob a bank so they could go build their own funeral parlor and cemetary (they mostly bury people in the desert), but Applebee doesn’t go for that.

That’s one plot. There’s also a criminal pair, combining a former New Orleans prostitute and an incompetent robber; a black deserter from the Union army; a district commissioner who’s pretty much of a criminal himself and I’m probably forgetting a plot line. Johnny is haunted by dreams of the prostitute in her glory days (which he’d never actually seen), to the point where—even though he and Applebee now have enough gold to go build that cemetary—he leaves during the night to go find her. The film more or less ends as it begins, with a set of gun battles in which almost everybody dies, certainly including our—hero?

I think the moral to the story is: Virgins shouldn’t dream of N’awlins Ladies of French descent; it will only get them into trouble.

Good points: Very good print, good cinematography, lots of scenery. Bad points: Somewhat incoherent editing, unless that’s the script, and not much in the way of acting. Maybe the missing ten minutes would make it better? Try as I might, I can’t give it more than $0.75.

The Devil and Leroy Bassett, 1973, color. Robert E. Pearson (dir. & screenplay), Cody Bearpaw, John F. Gott, George ‘Buck’ Flower, James A. Ward, Dick Winslow, Elliott Lindsey. 1:25 [1:32]

I gave this piece of trash almost 45 minutes, then decided I’d rather be doing almost anything else. Seems there’s an Indian (Keema Greywolf) who’s killed a deputy and shot the sheriff because they were chasing him when he had a blowout as he was speeding, drunk, down the highway after getting married—and his wife died in the resulting rollover. And he’d earlier saved the lives of a couple of drunken rednecks (actually two drunken rednecks and their psychotic evangelical brother), so they decide to break him out. There’s banjo music when the rednecks are, variously, drinking, praising God, shooting people and driving. There’s also a bunch of racist deputies and one wisecracking ladies’ man-style deputy.

Anyway, I just couldn’t. Maybe I’m getting tougher, but I’d rather read, play video poker, work on a C&I article, stare at the ceiling, whatever. No rating.

Apache Blood – previously viewed and absolutely worthless. Almost certainly the worst Western ever made.

I’d be willing to watch this again for, say, $1,000. Otherwise, forget it. I somehow own at least four copies of this garbage because Mill Creek uses it as filler on several sets: one of the few negative things I can say about Mill Creek Entertainment.

Boot Hill (orig. La collina degli stivali, 1969, color. Giuseppe Colizzi (dir. & writer), Terence Hill, Bud Spencer, Woody Strode, Eduardo Ciannelli, George Eastman, Victor Buono, Lionel Stander. 1:40 [1:32]

The good: great cast (Hill & Spenser, Stander as the circus head, Buono as the villain), pretty good print except for some noise over the opening titles, an unusual approach to the Spaghetti Western (most of the movie involved an Old West circus troupe, and both little people and aerialists are involved in the big final battle!), some really good cross-cutting between circus performance and other plot elements. The less good: I found the first half of the plot somewhere between bemusing and impossible to follow or discern. Maybe the eight missing minutes have something to do with that?

The second half’s clear enough: A town full of gold miners is being taken over by an evil overlord who either buys out or kills off claimholders so he can create a mining company for the whole mine area; he also takes over retail in the town. Two iconic gunmen and the traveling circus disrupt the overlord’s plans.

Not really sure what to give this; on balance, maybe $1.25.

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