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Cjamango Review

From The Spaghetti Western Database


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Director: Edoardo Mulargia

Cast: Ivan Rassimov, Helène Chanel, Piero Lulli, Mickey Hargitay, Livio Lorenzon, Pedro Sanchez, Federico Boido, Fred Coplan, Giusva Fioravanti, Dino Strano, Remo Capitani

Music: Felice Di Stefano

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BRIEF REVIEW

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A well-made but uneven variation on the theme of the two warring factions and the man in the middle. Cjamango sounds like Django, but the character is closer to Eastwood’s No Name. The script lacks fluency but the movie features a couple of interesting characters, notably a woman who is as cool and manipulative as any of the men.


Cjamango (See Database Page) wins two bags of gold at the card table, but he’s shot down in a hail of gunfire when bandits enter the saloon and start mowing down everybody in sight. Cjamango survives the incident and wants his gold back, but his only clue is the name of Hernandez, the person who tipped the bandits. Hernandez is an old drunkard and therefore Cjamango saves his life. The bandits who have stolen the gold are members of two different gangs, one led by a Mexican called Don Pablo, the other led by an American knick-named El Tigre. The two have fallen out and are now entangled in a bloody war over the gold ...


Leaning heavily on the formula of the two warring factions and the man in the middle - immortalized by Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars - Cjamango is a rather derivative affair. Of course Cjamango starts playing off both factions against each other, stirring up the hate by suggesting to both gang leaders that the other has the gold, in the hope that they will wipe out each other. There’s also voluptuous beauty and an abandoned kid, both clear references to the Holy Family subplot of Leone’s ground-breaking movie. And yes, at one point our anti-hero is exposed as an imposter and seriously beaten up, first by Don Pablo’s men, then by El Tigre’s men (in other words: two beatings for the price of one).


Mulargia handles the action scenes (especially the quick shootouts) with flair and makes good use of the few locations he had, even though one of them feels a little out of place: El Tigre and his men have withdrawn in what looks like the remnants of an army fort, palisades and all. He also comes up with a few clever variations in relation to character and plot. Cjamango is not a pitiless anti-hero but a man able to show mercy and affection, even to a insufferable kid. There’s also a mysterious man in black, who becomes Cjamango’s guardian angel (but whose true motivations and identity are revealed during the film’s final moments). But if the script has its assets, it also has a few liabilities: It lacks fluency and feels a little disjointed. The cute little kid quickly becomes annoying and the epilogue, with the revelation of the black-clad salesman’s true identity, feels tacked-on, creating a “What-the-hell -is-this?” feeling.

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The script is credited to Vincenzo Musolino who also produced. Some sources list him as a supporting actor, but I haven’t been able to trace him (1). Was a subplot featuring Musolino entirely cut? The running-time of a mere 83 minutes seems to support this idea. This could also explain some awkward transitions and the lack of fluency. But why would a producer cut his own scenes? Cjamango isn’t great, but it works thanks to Mulargia’s feeling for the genre and a couple of good performances, notably by Helène Chanel as Perla (Pearl in the English language version). She’s quite a complex character: she’s manipulative and deceptive, running errands for El Tigre while giving Don Pablo (who's madly in love with her) false hopes. She is cold to her father but buys him liquor and she finally redeems herself - and the movie - when it’s almost too late, by influencing the final shootout between Tiger and Cjamango. A hellova woman.

--By Scherpschutter

Note:

  • (1) According to Marco Giusti he plays a character called Bill Jackson, but that is a pseudonym he used on several occasions. Giusti also mentions a running-time of 90 minutes.


Miscellaneous

  • The artist of the poster (see above) made a mistake: on it Helène Chanel handles the rifle with her right hand while the movie clearly shows that she is left-handed.
  • In retrospect, a scene with the cute little kid holding a few cylinders of dynamite seems to hold a prophecy: in real life the actor playing the kid, Giusva Fioravanti, grew up to become a neo-nazi terrorist; he was involved in the bombing of the Bologna train station in 1980.
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