Apocalypse Joe Film Review

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Steffen - a gunslinger and a would-be Shakespearian actor - inherits a goldmine, but will have to fight a bandit and his gang to claim his legal rights. He uses all his skills - both as a gunslinger and an actor - to eliminate his opponents. The storytelling is rather poor, but action junkies will love it

Joe Clifford is roaming the West with a traveling Shakespeare Show. After having shot five people in the audience – out of self defense, I suppose – he’s thrown in jail, but his aunt bails him out and also tells hims that his uncle has left him a goldmine in the town of Landberry. Luck finally seems to smile at Joe Clifford… but in Landberry he is told that his uncle did not die of natural causes and that the property is now in possession of a local tyrant, who will most certainly not recognize his Legal rights. If he wants to claim his mine, Joe will have to fight for it. Luckily he is not only a would-be actor, but also an expert gunslinger …

When I first saw this movie (See Database Page), long ago, I thought it was among the worst, but in the meantime I have seen so many real bottom-of-the barrel movies, that I almost found it likable this time. Almost. A couple of early scenes with Virginia Garcia (*1), suggest a fairly light-hearted approach, but the movie soon turns into a straightforward spagh of the diehard kind, featuring an unfairly treaded hero using all his skills – both as a gunslinger and an actor – to eliminate the evildoer and his army of henchman. That is a good premise for a spaghetti western, and overall this will be an acceptable ride for action junkies, but it misses out several opportunities to be a bit more.

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The opening scene has a dreamlike, almost surreal character and some scenes with Steffen stalking his opponents are well conceived, but there are too many silly moments (for instance Steffen disguising himself as an old lady with a stroller) to create any real gothic atmosphere. There are several interesting characters – like this doctor-barber and his lovely daughter (who side with the stranger in town), or the indecisive sheriff (who has second thoughts about his situation but is too weak-willed to stand up against the tyrant), but not enough is done with them. All cards are on the table too soon, the premise becomes the plot, and writer/director Savona can’t think of anything else but throwing in more fisticuffs and shootouts. Some of the early action moments, marked by Steffen’s trademark rollovers, aren’t bad at all, but they eventually become repetitive and the final shootout goes on for almost half an hour, with Steffen running around, jumping through windows, shooting opponents by the dozens.

In the end Apocalypse Joe is a mid-tier genre entry, short on story, long – very long – on action. It’s well-shot and the score by Bruno Nicolai is beautiful. Steffen will never be invited by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, but he's quite alright here and Eduardo Fajardo is in his best villainous mood. And Mary Paz Pondal has the deepest decolleté you’ll ever see in any movie of the spaghetti kind.


Apocalypse Joe (Un Uomo chiamato Apocalisse Joe/A man called Joe Clifford) - Director: Leopoldo Savona - Cast: Anthony Steffen, Eduardo Fajardo, Mary Paz Pondal, Fernando Cerulli, Veronika Korosec, Giulio Baraghini, Fernando Bilbao, Virginia Garcia, Bruno Arié, Silvano Spadaccino, Remo Capitani, Stelio Candelli - Music: Bruno Nicolai

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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