Boot Hill Review (Korano)
From The Spaghetti Western Database
- Year: 1969
- Director: Giuseppe Colizzi
- Music:Carlo Rustichelli, Riz Ortolani
- Cast: Terence Hill, Bud Spencer, Woody Strode, Lionel Stander, Victor Buono, George Eastman, Wayde Preston, Romano Puppo, Dino Strano
Gunman Cat Stevens is wounded in an ambush by obscure assailants. He finds refuge with a band of traveling circus performers. After healing up, he moves on to find his old partner, Hutch, but is followed by one of the performers, Thomas; a former gunfighter turned acrobat, who wants revenge on the same men responsible for wounding Cat, for the killing of his young protege. After Cat and Thomas meet up with Hutch and his deaf mute sidekick, Baby Doll, the four of them ride back to town to settle matters with the men responsible for all this trouble.
One of the most hated Spaghettis of its kind. With its corny circus theme, extremely odd musical score, and vague plot, it's easy to see why so many dislike it. But a few holdouts, like our respected forumite Stanton, have staunchly defended the film as a well directed and stylish Spaghetti Western. I used to be among those who hated it. But recently, have come more to the side of those who appreciate it. Although easily the weakest of the (unofficial) Colizzi trilogy, it still is often a very well directed film, full of style.
First off, the film is set apart from the rest of the Spaghetti Westerns in that it has the very large presence of the circus life. Not just that some scenes showcase circus performances, but the circus actually influences a lot of aspects in the film. Most of the score is circus music. And the finale gunfight consists of dwarfs and acrobats aiding the four gunmen against a gang of landgrabbing henchmen. In fact, the circus seems to be the main character in the film. There are large sections in the film where both Terence Hill and Bud Spencer are completely absent, while the circus gets the center stage. This is one of the problems many have with the film. That it doesn't focus enough on the main characters. I too find this a little disconcerting. But its sheer eccentricity of these aspects save it from being too unbearable. It's not often you get to see the circus in the Spaghetti West. Another problem people have had with these circus aspects is the presence of some rather goofy dwarves which definitely get more attention than they should. Though it is amusing to see a group of the little buggers take on the likes of portly Spanish character actor, Tito Garcia.
What I liked most about the film is the stylish nature it has. It often has both the slick, dirty, and violent feel of a great Leone imitator while also combining some scenes that make the film seem like an epic American Western. Mostly for the grandiose theme music. But like the previous two films in the trilogy, it can be quite atmospheric at times. Also, rather sinister. These types of scenes are the best in the movie. But the contrast between them and the lively, silly, cartoonish circusy scenes make the film feel a bit self parodistic.
The direction for this film was very good at times. Colizzi definitely had a style set apart from the rest. He can be quite dark when he wants to and extremely light when he wants too. But his darker side is definitely his better. Scenes like the opening are great. Hill struggles to hide from the enclosing gunmen by hiding behind wagons and avoiding their gunfire. There are also many scenes that have a wonderful, ritualistic quality. This ritualistic approach is where Colizzi shines. But the achilles heel for him here was his rather poor unraveling of the plot. The entire plot is explained in one scene during a conversation between Hill and Spencer where they both talk in a very indirect manner. More hinting at things then actually explaining them making it all rather vague. Sort of like we are outside looking in, but overall, it's a well directed film.
This is another one of the dream cast Spaghettis. Not only do we have acting duo Hill and Spencer, but also African American actor Woody Strode who does a rather good job as the vengeance seeking acrobat. Though his performance suffers from the same absence Hill and Spencer suffered from in the midsection. Lionel Stander is the show stealer as the neurotic circus barker and manager. Victor Buono plays one of the worst villains in Spaghetti history. Not that he is good at being a villain, but that he is an unbelievably non threatening villain.
Carlo Rustichelli's controversial score I found somehow fitting. The circus music, though cheesy, can be catchy. Along with this, he also combines free style jazz and as said before, some grandiose American Western music. Apparently Riz Ortolani performed the music used by the singing girls near the end of the film. A very cheesy and annoying tune it is. I suppose I liked the music more than others. It certainly isn't usual.
Though chances are you'll not like the film, you could also become one who loves it. But just give it a try and see for yourself. --Korano 04:07, 7 March 2010 (UTC)