Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Italy/Spain, 1967. Produzioni Europee Associate, Arturo González Producciones Cinematográficas. Story by Sergio Sollima, Screenplay by Sergio Donati, Sergio Sollima. Cinematography by Rafael Pacheco. Produced by Alberto Grimaldi. Music by Ennio Morricone. Production Design by Carlo Simi. Costume Design by Carlo Simi. Film Editing by Eugenio Alabiso.
Gian Maria Volonte plays a mild-mannered professor who leaves the east coast to head to the dry climate of the west for his health. While sunning himself on a restful afternoon, he witnesses authorities transporting a dangerous criminal (Tomas Milian) and a scuffle soon follows that results in Volonte being taken hostage and dragged across the parched, dry country by the brigand. As their violent encounters and near misses with Pinkerton guards continue, Milian finds himself intrigued by this intellectual pacifist who was debating theories of violence and war with his students back home but is now mired in situations of pure violence and survival that are far removed from the Civil War happening on the other side of the country. Volonte gradually loses his belief in civility and order and eventually switches places with his companion, becoming an evil mastermind obsessed with control over those less brutal than himself. Seen as a commentary on the rise of Italian fascim, this colourful spaghetti western scores highly even if you aren’t interested in it as an allegory. Director Sergio Sollima keeps the action going while emphasizing gorgeous backdrops to complement the gunfire, provoking the story’s movements through some eccentric twists with remarkable ease.