El Macho Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
El Macho is asked to impersonate and deceased outlaw and to infiltrate a gang led by a colorful villain knicknamed 'The Duke'. A late genre entry that is better than it maligned reputation suggests
Dir: Marcello Andrei - Cast: Carlos Monzon, George Hilton, Malisa Longo, Susanna Giminez, Giuseppe Castellano, Benito Stefanelli, Bruno di Luia, Maria Marselli, Bruno Arié, Sergio Serafini, Calisto Calisti - Music: Marcello Ramoino
Reviewed by Tomas Knapko
In the late seventies, the genre was almost dead, spitting out some of its last pieces called twilight westerns, which, different in mood and style, were like long shadows cast by the enormous cinematic heights of the previous decade. El Macho, directed by Marcello Andrei in 1977, doesn't fit easily between other twilight entries like Keoma, Mannaja, or California, it's not melancholic and sorrowfull enough. On the other hand, the shortage of sunshine is even more significant than in the similarly bleak The Silent Stranger.
In other words: in El Macho there's not even one single scene with the Sun up the sky. (Okay, I'm willing to admit there could be one tiny shiny scene, but otherwise, as far as weather conditions are concerned, this is a very dull and cloudy movie). That could be enough information for every spaghetti western weather enthusiast and meteorologist, but let's unwind the story a bit.
Carlos Monzon, the lead in this picture, plays a man called Buzzard. In a words of the local sceriffo „he is just a man who always hangs around The Duke (I'll come to talk about him later), a kind of a coyote“. Yes. Coyote. And he gets a nice headshot few minutes after the opening credits. No, this is not a type of supernatural revenge SW, in which our guntotting anti-hero returns from the other world to seek vengeance on his murderers, in Django The Bastard style, nor will he crawl out of the grave like the hero in Django Kill!. No, headshot is headshot here, no fairy tales allowed, my friends.
But Carlos Monzon is back in business soon enough, but not as Buzzard, but as El Macho, a poker player, who resembles Buzzard like a twin and yes – the local sheriff and his deputies got an idea to put him up to something. To infiltrate Duke's camp as a Buzzard and inform them about the gold shipment, stolen by The Duke and his gang during a stagecoach incident. Buzzard/El Macho agrees to help them, of course for some amount of money. Few thousands will do, as always, but once he is in The Duke's camp and nobody has a slightest suspicion about his true identity, he decides to deal with certain things (and by that I mean the shipment of gold) in his own way, with some help of Buzzard's girlfriend Helen (Malisa Longo).
Okay, now The Duke. He‘s a very likeable villain of the aristocratic kind, who, while shooting at people with a muzzle-loader (I think), drinks a glass of champagne (poured by a serving bandido) and nonchalantly throws the empty glass over a shoulder. And he is played by George Hilton, by the way. What not to like about such a heavy. You would probably shout at him, while he was aiming at you with a rifle, „Shoot, shoot at me, you likeable fire-eater“. We can enjoy some ambiguity of this character, so there's a surprise element present during the whole affair – but – I'd like to state I was very very joyless in the end.
Now, it kinda looks like Hilton steals the show for himself, but I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the perfomance of Carlos Monzon as El Macho – he has a very good screen presence and he can also beat four guys in sixteen seconds. I counted. No surprise in that, because he was a popular professional boxer in Argentina, who, unfortunately, didn't beat only his opponents in the ring, but occasionally punched also his wife. He was sentenced for 11 years in prison for killing his second spouse.
Back to El Macho. I am always happy to see some unusual weaponry in spaghetti westerns, and this time around, the protagonist carries a bola (no, not ebola) - actually boleadora, to be precise, since it is made with three weightballs (sorry for the neologism). If only he had used this interesting weapon on more occasions or at least in a prolonged action scene - for example like Mannaja used his hatchets, or the mysterious traveler his bumerangs in Matalo! - but unfortunately, this element didn't take off on its deadly flight. Bolas were also used in another spaghetti western – The Mercenary.
Anyway, I was expecting something really bad, with this one-star rating review on imdb in mind. The author of that review is complaining about everything – even about the amount of smoke the guns spit out of the barrels in this film. Actually, if I may say so, I like it that way, I want my spaghies dirty, cloudy and smokey. Plus, you can add to these pros a pretty good soundtrack (even though some might say it‘s a tad too sentimental) and few interesting slo-mo scenes. El Macho is a nice time filler, a good way to spend the evening, which is not a bad thing, if you've seen every spagh down the rope to 1964 ...