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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.


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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)‬.


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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.‭


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boleadoras

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 ...

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