Throughout the history of cinema it is hard to find one title anymore influential than Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars. It practically started a genre of it’s own in the Spaghetti Western. I don’t know what the official count is but it sure seems as if hundreds of Euro westerns were filmed over the next 10 years till the craze finally died down as unfortunately did the overall popularity of the western. I have always felt that the western basically died with the Duke. No offense intended to others who have tried to keep the genre alive, notably Eastwood, Selleck, Costner and Elliott.
For this Italian oater we have another U.S. television actor flown oversea to take up the challenge of bad dubbing. Craig Hill. Hill was more of a bit part player at the time compared to Clint who had become known due to the Rawhide show. Hill plays a character not unlike Eastwood as was the norm for many of these Italian flicks. Hill has a habit of watching gold shipments being robbed only to take out the bandits and return the money for a sizable reward.
Italian actor George Martin turns up as an old nemesis who wants the next shipment of gold and a shot at Hill if he can get it. He does of course in a well staged finale. The plot gets a little thick at times but overall this is a fairly watchable effort from director Tonino Valerii. Valerii would go on to direct the cult western My Name is Nobody with Henry Fonda and Terence Hill.
The music is also very much in the Morricone tradition and sounds just right from Nico Fidenco. There is plenty of gun play and one hell of a an explosion taking out a bridge. Love it when things are done the old fashioned way with no CGI! As for the western town this was filmed in, I am quite sure it was used in countless other overseas westerns. It’s naturally full of men with rifles and pistols and hardly a woman in sight. Budget restraints I guess. Then there’s the crusty old timer who keeps his eyes on things knowing way more than any other character in the film other than our Eastwood wanna be Mr. Hill. And of course for gadgets which were a popular set piece in the Italian westerns Hill has a telescopic lens on his rifle making him all the more deadly at long range.
If looking for a taste of spaghetti, one could do a whole lot worse.
And Craig Hill died the other day, I was just reading that this aft, with the mention of these westerns. I for one never get tired of these, must still see a lot more– not like one could ever run out, there were so many.
I had no idea he just passed away. Just was on the shelf and I had meaning to review an Italian western so went with it. As you say, so many and I never really tire of them.
I tried hard over the years to like spaghetti westerns but after seeing a seemingly huge number – not this one though – I finally came to the conclusion that they weren’t really my thing. I love Leone’s work deeply and there are a small handful of other films that I’m reasonably fond of, but the majority of spaghetti westerns and I just don’t get along. I still try one out occasionally but always with my hopes in check.
I think that is a well put statement. There seems to be the cream of the crop with Leone and a few other ones slightly below him. Then there are a whole bunch of hard to sit through titles.Easy to enjoy a B western from Hollywood but not always the case with B westerns from abroad. But still I try as I am always looking for a gem.