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Shoot the Sun Down (1978)

Influenced with a heavy dose of Italian westerns this David Leeds directed effort stars Christopher Walken in the role of the mysterious gunfighter with very little to say.

Riding the territory of New Mexico in 1836 he comes upon an odd assortment of characters who are keeping a close eye on one another as they journey deeper into dangerous Apache lands.

Bo Brundin plays a ships captain out of place in the deep barren deserts of New Mexico who has brought with him  Margot Kidder as a woman who is contracted for five years to be his woman or slave if you prefer. Kidder’s brought along a wide assortment of gowns and dresses which photograph quite nicely with the sands as a backdrop. Brundin isn’t saying much about his destination but he has caught the interest of a gang of cutthroats and scalp hunters led by Geoffrey Lewis.

shoot2

Into this odd blend of characters comes Walken as “the Stranger” known as Rainbow. He’s fast with a gun and equally adept at throwing knives. He’ll soon make a friend with an Indian tribe led by A Martinez. This union will prove helpful to our star player in a later reel.

a martinez

The meandering plot involves Montezuma’s gold and Geoffrey Lewis’ unsavory character trying to ensure that he will be the one to walk away with it. He’s constantly playing the odds with both Walken and Brundin in the hopes of partnering up.

Over the course of this location shoot there will be double crosses and men staked out in the hot sun to die before the final shot is fired. Just who is left standing at the end shouldn’t come as a surprise yet I must admit to liking Lewis in practically anything and was kind of pulling for him.

1978 proved to be a big year for all three of the star names here. Kidder landed the role of Lois Lane in Superman opposite Christopher Reeve, Walken won an Oscar for The Deer Hunter and Lewis played Clint Eastwood’s sidekick Orville in the box office smash Every Which Way But Loose.

Playing like a Spaghetti western this is a very “pretty” film to look at but I found it bogged down in the middle before ramping up at the conclusion. On the blu ray edition I snagged there was an alternate opening credit sequence that I kind of liked with a theme song sung by Kinky Friedman.

As it stands the music score by Ed Bogas and Judy Munsen was quite good anyway so all wasn’t lost on the cutting room floor.

I was not at all aware of this title till stumbling across it on the recent Kino Lorber release. While it isn’t necessarily very memorable it does have two of my favorite character actors in Walken and Lewis. I say this despite the fact that when this was released I didn’t think much of Walken until the years rolled by and he became somewhat of a cult icon. Geoffrey Lewis never attained that status but if you love seventies cinema it’s practically impossible not to know him by face if not by name.

lewis

For the trivia buffs the credits list Sacheen Littlefeather as one of the featured players. If the name isn’t familiar then you may recall she accepted the Oscar for Marlon Brando’s Godfather performance.

For those looking for something a bit different this art house styled spaghetti western knock off might be just the thing on a rainy afternoon.

ShootDownSun

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