Duello nel Texas - Gringo (Review Scherpschutter)
From The Spaghetti Western Database
A key movie in the history of the genre. It was the first western produced by Jolly Films, the production company of Arrigo Colombo and Giorgio Papi, who would also produce, one year later, A Fistful of Dollars. For this reason this is often called the first spaghetti western. European westerns from an earlier date (there were quite a few) were either predominantly Spanish or had not enough characteristic elements to be labeled as a spaghetti western. The movie was co-written and co-produced by the mysterious Albert Band/Alfredo Antonini, a recurring name in the early days of the genre and two other people involved in the production would make a considerable contribution to Sergio Leone’s landmark movie A Fistful of Dollars: cinematographer Massimo Dallamano (‘Jack Dalmas’) and composer Ennio Morricone (‘Dan Savio’).
It’s nice to see that the this pre-Leone western is already set in and around an American-Mexican border town. The location was probably chosen to ‘explain’ the look of the Spanish cast members and extras, but it offered the screenwriters the opportunity to add a few anti-racist touches to the story. Harrison plays 'Gringo Martinez', a white man who was adopted as a child by a Mexican family now living north of the border; he had left the heard of the family and crossed the border to help the poor in the Mexican Civil War. Coming home, he discovers that his father was killed and the family gold stolen. His adopted brothers have seen the three men responsible for the crime, but Mexicans have become second-rate citizens in Texas, and the sheriff is unwilling to investigate the case …
Duello nel Texas is a transitional movie: it still has a traditional western flavor to it, but it’s seasoned with the anti-racist sentiments of the Karl May movies and the blood-calls-for-blood philosophy of the Italian western. Harrison’s character of a white man sympathizing with people who are subjected to racial prejudice, seems a far echo of May’s Old Shatterhand, but the story turns him into a spaghetti western avenger. The film also has the typical line-up of villainous businessmen and dignitaries, that would become a recurring genre element. With a giggling henchman and even a dash of Zapata (while on Mexican soil), the film almost seems an ouverture to the genre, offering most characteristics in a nutshell, but also in some sort of rudimentary, imperfect form. It’s set in a border town, but the town is full of life, not a ghost town (1). Harrison is not a cynical loner, but a loving son and brother, and Rossi-Stuart looks very much like one of the many rocks stars of the moment who were dreaming of becoming the local Elvis.
Some of the town scenes, with lovely señoritas showing their bare shoulders and clear-skin smiles while flirting with passers-by, are quite good, but apparently director Blasco didn’t know how to handle action scenes, so Mario Caiano was flown over to Spain to do them. Caiano spent five or six days in the company of cinematographer Dallamano (2), and looking at those action scenes, it wouldn’t surprise me if Dallamano had a directional hand in them too. The final duel with Harrison and Rossi-Stuart is a typical main street duel, with odd angles and close-ups, closer to what Dallamano would do with Leone than what Caiano would do himself in Pistols Don't Argue, his next project for Jolly Films. Morricone’s score is a rather classical one, supporting the movie’s action rather than illustrating it. The theme song, A Gringo like Me, is nice, but also more than just a bit cheesy.
- (1) The town looked so different that I didn't recognize it when watching the movie. But the town scenes for Duello nel Texas were shot in Hoyo de Manzanares, near Madrid, in the same western town Leone would use for A Fistful of Dollars http://www.western-locations-spain.com/madrid/hoyo_de_manzanares/index.htm
- (2) Marco Giusti, Dizionario del western all'italiana
Cast: Richard Harrison, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Mikaela, Daniel Martin, Sara Lezana, Rodolfo de Campo, Augustàn Gonzalez, Aldo Sambrell, Tito Garcia, José Calvo - Director: Ricardo Blasco, Mario Caiano - Cinematography: Massimo Dallamano - Music: Ennio Morricone
Review A | Review B