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Friday, October 5, 2012

NAVAHO JOE (1966)

Sergio Corbucci, an ultra-prolific megger of ultra-violent genre fare for the Euro-market, may soon expand on his cult following with Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming DJANGO UNCHAINED. Corbucci’s 1966 ‘Spaghetti Western,’ DJANGO, may have inspired Tarantino, but his best known Stateside release is this effective low-budget affair from the same year. Burt Reynolds, in an early starring role*, sports an orangey glow as the eponymous Native-American out for revenge against a gang of savage cutthroats. (With ‘Injun’ scalps no longer being redeemed, they’re moving on to railroad robbery.) Corbucci can’t do anything about some of the absurdities of the genre, but for those who can accept the crass dubbing (Fernando Rey gets an Irish accent), the doubtful logistics needed to keep the plot going, and staging that goes flat whenever Corbucci moves away from violence & vistas (some of the townie scenes could come from Mel Brooks’ BLAZING SADDLES/’74), the film surprises in pulling off a fair share of tricky action sequences. By the end, you can (almost) buy into the idea of Burt’s Navajo Joe taking on a veritable army of gunslinging hombres all on his own. And a little cheer for a script that dares to kill off the usual suspects at unexpected moments all thru the pic. (If exec-producer Dino De Laurentiis had more money invested, he’d never have allowed it.) NOTE: Viewer Alert! This Spanish/Italian production was almost certainly still using 'trip wires' on the horses.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY-I: The reason the score by Leo Nichols sounds like Ennio Morricone on a bad day is because it is Ennio Morricone on a bad day.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY-II: Reynolds claimed to have signed on for a Sergio Leone movie and badmouths the pic to this day. His mop of hair is a bit much, yet it’s actually one of his better perfs. (BTW, is that Burt’s voice in the release prints? What an odd accent for a Navaho.)

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