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Friday, September 4, 2015

COMPANEROS (1970)

Second-tier Spaghetti-Western specialist Sergio Corbucci caught some welcome blowback notoriety when Quentin Tarentino found inspiration (okay, really just a title) in his DJANGO films.* And this non-DJANGO pic isn’t all that different from those earlier Corbucci pics, perhaps a bit more consistent in execution. (Not necessarily a good thing since it stunts ‘highs’ as well as ‘lows.’) Franco Nero, square of jaw, blue of eye, is again treading around war-torn revolutionary Mexico, this time with a boxcar full of guns & munitions. But which faction should he sell to? Tomas Milian, a largely comic bandito in cahoots with a venal General? Fernando Rey, a professorial pacifist revolutionary with a youthful following of trigger-happy Marxists? The standing Mexican army? What about Jack Palance, a shady business profiteer, currently searching for Senor Rey who’s being held prisoner North-of-the-Border? Milian & Nero wind up working together, a partnership of convenience, as one set piece follows another to varying effect. Corbucci can be awful lazy at times (when in doubt, toss in a Gatling gun), then turn around and nail a tricky location trail sequence that’s largely defined by character placement within landscape. (He certainly has some unusual ideas about what the Rio Grande looks like!) And while you don’t get the blissed-out pay-offs found in a classic Sergio Leone film, you do get more Ennio Morricone on the soundtrack. This time with a lulu of a main theme wailing away with chorus.

DOUBLE-BILL: The first DJANGO/’66 has a lot good stuff in it. OR: See what il maestro does with similar elements & a similar set-up in Sergio Leone’s lesser known DUCK YOU SUCKER/’71. (See Write-Ups below.)

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