Thursday, January 14, 2010

In short: A Pistol For Ringo (1965)

A gang of Mexican bandits (as always lead by Fernando Sancho, whose character is called Sancho too) robs the bank of a nameless American town near the border. Sancho is hurt by the posse chasing him and his men and probably won't make it back to Mexico alive without taking care of his wounds first, so the gang (minus the one now very dead guy who wanted to leave Sancho behind), attacks the nearest farm and takes the inhabitants hostage. In a stroke of good luck for the bad guys, the farm belongs to Major Clyde (Antonio Casas) whose daughter Ruby (Lorella De Luca) just happens to be the local Sheriff's (George Martin) fiancee. It also is built (or so the film says) like a fortress and will need to be attacked by the regular military and not just any old posse before it will fall.

The sheriff would really like to get his fiancee and the other hostages back alive, so he is not content with just waiting until the cavallary arrives to blow everyone up. Instead, he has the glorious idea of hiring the dubious yet honorable gunman "Angel Face" Ringo (Giuliano Gemma) to work the gang as an undercover agent (and rogue doctor, just like Black Jack).

Ringo's mission isn't exactly made easier by the fact that the Major decides to fall in love with gunmoll Dolores (Nieves Navarro) who just happens to be Sancho's girlfriend.

A Pistol For Ringo was directed and written by Duccio Tessari, a man whose scripts sometimes have the - very atypical for Italian genre film - virtue of being well paced and rather tightly scripted. Pistol has one of those scripts, which sounds all nice and good on paper but left me a little nonplussed, because this tightness does not leave as much room for the mad or just plain strange flourishes I often love about the Spaghetti Western. The intensity the Sergios brought to their work is of course nowhere to be found either.

In other words: it's a well crafted script, but also a bit on the conservative and riskless side.

The same can be said about Tessari's direction. He is a much less sloppy director than many of his contemporaries, but his film also isn't as stylish or grimy or just plain European as their films are. Tessari's style is at times closer to that of a competent American Western director (so I'm not talking Boetticher or de Toth here) than what I am used to from the Italian arm of the genre.

It is patently unfair of me to feel as lukewarm about A Pistol For Ringo as I do. After all, Tessari probably set out to make just another well-crafted Western, and mostly succeeded in that. So the problem really is mine alone, in that I would have preferred a film that shows a little less competence and slickness and had more of a personality of its own.



Tower Farm said...

An Italian movie that is "well paced and rather tightly scripted"?? I didn't know such a thing existed!

However...I kind of enjoy them when they're rambling and make no I'll probably skip this one. Glad to know it's out there, tho!

houseinrlyeh said...

Yeah, I don't go into Italian movies looking for tightness either, but at least that one was a surprise.