I came, I saw, I shot review
This movie is often called a sequel to Any Gun can play, but apart from some similarities on script level, Castellari’s direction is the only link between the two movies. If Any Gun can play had successfully smuggled a touch of self-parody into the genre, this movie plays more like a comedy of errors; it adopts the familiar spaghetti western premise of the motley threesome vying for a large sum of money, but instead of developing a storyline, it offers a collection of churlish jokes, including a false suitcase (not holding the money but an old man's picnic lunch) and a young lady hiding the loot under her dress and faking a pregnancy. The motley crew are: Edwin Kean (Wolff), a master of disguise and expert in pyrotechnics, Moses Lang (Sabàto), a guy with a sweetheart in every other town, and Clay Watson (Saxon), a dandy card player hiding a small Derringer in his inner pocket. The 'plot' evolves around the $ 400.000 Kean and Lang have stolen from the Springfield bank, after Lang had frustrated Kean’s plans to rob the stagecoach. As soon as one is in possession of the loot, the other two are hot on his heels.
The opening is quite promising with Wolff impersonating a priest in order to plant a stack of bibles - containing dynamite connected to a timer mechanism - onto the stagecoach. Sabàto’s first appearance as the ever-smiling scoundrel (who ruins a stagecoach robbery by holding up the stagecoach!) with the oddest pair of six-plus shooters you'll ever see, is also entertaining. Actually the first forty minutes are quite enjoyable, with a swift succession of unexpected encounters and fast getaways, but then it goes astray, with an endless series of acrobatic stunts, resulting in a sort of waterpolo game, the three leads, still fighting, throwing the suitcase with the money to each other. A large scale massacre (involving Mexican bandits and the US army) is thrown in, adding to the confusion. At the same time the movie remains more enjoyable than most comedy westerns made in the seventies (including Castellari’s own).
The characters are stereotypes, but the actors are well-chosen and seem to enjoy themselves a lot. Saxon has the right face and acting style for the genre and you wonder why he wasn't asked more often (he only appeared in that very late Italian western, Jonathan degli orsi); Flori is beautiful and Anchoriz performs his usual assortment of tricks as the Mexican gang leader. Carlo Rustichelli’s score offers a collection of tunes you rather expect to hear on a fairy ground than in a spaghetti western. The documentary Western, Italian Style (1968) offers some behind-the-scenes footage; we see a young Enzo giving instructions to his actors how to knock somebody down. He also talks – in English – to the camera, explaining his love for westerns with both action and humor.
Titles, titles, titles ...
The original title of the project, Pago col piombo (I’ll pay you in lead), seems to indicate a more serious spaghetti western, but the original plans were altered before Castellari joined the project. The working title, Vado, vedo e sparo - a wink at Caesar’s Vini, vidi vici (*1) - was finally changed into I Tre che sconvolsero il West, meaning The Three who turned the West into chaos. Very little is known about the original plans, other than that Jack Palance was supposed to star in it, next to Sabàto (*2). Some also think this is the project that was offered by Castellari to Charles Bronson over a game of arms-wrestling when the two had met in Cannes. Anyway, Chuck never showed up and Enzo had to settle for Antonio, John and Frank.
Director: Enzo G. Castellari - Cast: Antonio Sabàto, John Saxon, Frank Wolff, Agata Flori, Leo Anchóriz, Antonio Vico, Hercules Cortes, Tito Garcia, Pilar Velasquez, Ivan Scratuglia - Music: Carlo Rustichelli
- (1) Caesar’s Veni, vidi vici (I came, I saw, I conquered) is a so-called tricolon (or tripartite motto); the figure of speech has inspired writers and politicians throughout the ages. Note that Caesar used perfect tenses for his tricolon, while present tenses are used in Vado, vedo e sparo (a literal translation would therefore be : I go, I see, I shoot)
- (2) Marco Giusti, Dizionario del western all'italiana