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$100,000 for Ringo Review

From The Spaghetti Western Database

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An early spaghetti western that was an incredible succes. It has 'Ringo' in the title, but there's no character called Ringo in the movie. Lots of action but a rambling storyline. Richard Harrison and Fernando Sancho co-star

Director: Alberto De Martino - Cast: Richard Harrison, Fernando Sancho, Gérard Tichy, Massimo Serato, Guido Lollobrigida, Eleonora Bianchi, Loris Loddi, Luis Induni - Music: Bruno Nicolai

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$100,000 for Ringo was one of the most successful films of the early days of the genre. Six westerns from 1965 made more than one billion lire at the Italian box-office: Leone’s For a Few Dollars more, four (!) movies starring Giuliano Gemma, plus this one. In Italy alone more than 5 million people bought a ticket to see it. Richard Harrison enters the movie on the tones of a song - performed by Bobby Solo - called Ringo, came to fight (1), but the name is never mentioned in the movie. The original title was Tre per il Texas (Three for Texas) and it’s clear that the project was retitled to cash in on the popularity of the 'Ringo' movies.

According to several people involved, only a few elements of the original story (by Guido Zurli) were used. It's unknown who was responsible for the final script. Enzo G. Castellari is mentioned as second-unit director, and some think he had a hand in things. Basically this was an Italian production; the Spaniards were only needed for the locations, the stuntmen and … Fernando Sancho. The producers absolutely wanted Sancho, whose appearances in the Ringo movies had made him very popular in Italy (2). His part as a shady lawman (is he really a deputy?) is a bit puzzling, but as we shall see, that’s not a bad thing in this particular case. Harrison had been the star of two of his peplum movies, but had also been in Duello nel Texas (1963), that crucial first western production of Jolly Films and the infamous Papi & Colombo, who would change the history of film making with their second western (and some help of a Sergio, a Clint and an Ennio).


How can a film as successful as this one become so obscure? Well, to begin with it’s not very good. It opens with a rather bizarre scene, in which a woman, transporting a baby in a saddle bag, is persecuted by Indians. At one point she sends the horse and the baby forward, to fight it out with the persecutors. She is soon surrounded by them, but then, all of a sudden, the Indians are shot in the back by a white man who subsequently … kills the woman with a spear. The scene could have been great, but as it is, it’s above all confusing. The woman and the baby were the wife and son of a man called Ward Cluster, a former resident of the valley, who is believed to be killed in the Civil War. When Harrison rides into the valley (in true Shane style) he is mistaken for Cluster, so people think he has returned to get even with the evil Cherry brothers. Even the kid from the opening scene – raised by the Indians – thinks Harrison is his father ...

Harrison keeps his shirt on throughout the movie, even when he’s whipped (probably because his upper body was thought to be too muscular for a western hero). Main villain Gérard Tichy is modeled after Gian Maria Volonté’s Ramon Rojo from A Fistful of Dollars: he’s the most dangerous of three brothers, he is doing some dirty business with the Mexican army, and he desperately loves somebody else’s wife. The Holy Family isn’t very virtuous in this case: the man is a drunkard and the woman has a dubious reputation. Their fate is pitiful. The producers wanted Spanish stuntmen because they were cheaper than the Italian ones, and apparently hired dozens of them. As a result a couple of large-scale action scenes were shot: the stuntmen are dressed like Mexicans, Indians and others, and ride and run around, fall from great heights, jump over cliffs, and it all looks terribly speeded up and utterly stupid. Sancho’s shady character provides the movie with the most interesting storyline: will this man turn out to be a good or a bad guy in the end?


Notes:

  • (1) In Italian it became Ringo, dove vai? (Ringo, where are you going?) and was sung by Don Powell.
  • (2) Marco Giusti, Dizionario del western all'italiana
Simon Gelten
Simon Gelten is a long time contributor to the SWDb. "I'm not as old as Tom B. but I'm working on it. I hope to catch up with him by the end of the next decade.", he says. Simon saw all movies by Sergio Leone and several by Sergio Corbucci in cinema, most of the time in Eindhoven, the city where he was born. Currently, Simon is living in Turnhout, Belgium. Simon is active within the database as both Scherpschutter and his alter ego Tiratore Scelto.
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