Arizona Colt Review (Scherpschutter)
From The Spaghetti Western Database
Cast: Giuliano Gemma, Corinne Marchand, Fernando Sancho, Roberto Camardiel, Nello Pazzafini, Andrea Bosic, Rosalba Neri, Pietro Tordi, Tom Felleghy, Mirko Ellis, José Manuel Martin, Omero Capanna - Director: Michele Lupo - Music: Francesco De Masi
The villain Gordo Watch attacks the state prison because he needs new recruits for his gang. The prisoners are branded with the S of Scorpio to bring them to obedience, but one of the prisoners is a gunman called Arizona Colt, who refuses to join the gang. When one of Gordo’s man kills a young girl in Blackstone hill, Arizona is hired by her father to track down the murderer. He eliminates the man in a fight, but is severely wounded afterwards and left for dead in the desert. He is saved by one of Gordo's men, Double Whiskey, who comes to his senses and changes sides. Eventually the two men will face the bandits in the town street ...
Arizona Colt was meant to create a slightly different image for Giuliano Gemma. Arizona is as clean as Ringo, but he can be as dirty as No Name. One of the nicest inside jokes of the movie is Giuliano Gemma ordering a glass of milk, like Ringo would do, but quickly changing to beer when the man standing next to him makes a remark. While Ringo was a sympathetic rascal, Arizona Colt is a mean, lean bastard. His motto, in Italian, is Ci devo pensare (I'll have to think about that). He has to think about nearly everything and comes up with some bizarre answers: When he's asked by the saloon owner to bring in the murderer of his youngest daughter, his price is $500 plus one night with the man's other daughter. In another, particularly uneasy scene, he seems totally unmoved when the bank is robbed and numerous people are massacred. But his character is slightly redeemed in the final part of the movie, when he agrees to Marchand's request to help the town of Blackstone Hill, terrorized by Sancho's gang. In the final reels, before riding off, he even seems to show some real affection for her, in an almost touching scene, completely contrary to the tone of the rest of the movie.
With most victims shot when unarmed and defenceless, this is a very violent film. There is at least one gruesome scene in which Gemma is shot in both arms and legs. On the other hand some scenes tend towards comedy, or even parody. Gemma's obsession with clothes and hygiene is clearly a burlesque reference to No Name's indifference in those departments, and when his side-kick Whiskey orders a double whiskey, he demands two bottles. Furthermore this guy can also literally smell money, like the infamous Mr. Mooney in The Lucy Show. The main characters all have names of a slightly goofy nature: Gemma is from Arizona and uses a Colt, Sancho is called Gordo (= fat) and has a watch he's very fond of, and Whiskey, well, he doesn't drink milk. There's a sequence involving singing cowboys that is particularly silly, but turns (almost without warning) into a brutal execution scene.
Arizona Colt is easy to enjoy, but the combination of violence and comedy works a little confusing. It was Lupo's first spaghetti western, but he had previously made a parody with the couple Franchi and Ingrassia, Per un pugno nell'occhio (1965). The film's running time seems longish, but it's never dull. Good use has been made of the Almeria locations and the action scenes are fine, with several interesting camera angles and keen editing. They work best as long as Lupo doesn't try to copy the Leone style: the characteristic Gemma-Pazzafini fistfight is a standout, but the finale, very similar to the final shootout between No Name and Ramon in Fistful, can't live up to the expectations. There's an explosion that announces Gemma's arrival in town, there's the line-up of Sancho's men and Gemma's walk towards them, and there's the sudden outburst of violence ... but what is totally lacking, is Leone's style in the ritualistic build-up to the inevitable climax.
Sancho (looking like some oversized drummer boy!) gives his usual impersonation of a sadistic Mexican bandit, and Camardiel plays his part so enthusiastically you're tempted to believe that hangovers are synonymous with happiness (but I won't try that trick with the two bottles at home). However, French actress Marchand (an actress favoured by François Truffaut and Agnes Varda) seems out of place in a western setting. Moreover she has been given a coiffure that's not really flattering. De Masi's moody score is okay without being particularly distinguished. But the song He came out of Nowhere, sung by Raoul, is as deliciously cheesy as they come in the genre. The only one way to get it out of your head is listening to another Raoul song.
- I checked what Phil Hardy has to say about this movie in the Aurum Film Encyclopedia. His words really took me by surprise: “In place of the regular gimmicks of the genre, director Lupo offers frequent sex scenes.” Frequent sex scenes? In Arizona Colt? What’s the original source of this nonsense? Weisser's bible of enigmatic errors? (I checked, the answer is: No, it's not Weisser).