Red Coat - Giubbe Rosse Review
The first film signed with the moniker Joe D'Amato. D'Amato had previously worked within the genre (mainly as a cinematographer), but always under his birth name, Aristide Massaccesi. We are far removed from the sleazy, exploitation-themed cinema he would become famous for. This is a western (sort of) set in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, featuring Fabio Testi as a Red Coat, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who becomes both the hunter and the hunted in a cat-and-mouse game with a former friend turned outlaw. The original story was written by Luigi Montefiori (George Eastman) who was also supposed to star in the movie (apparently he was rejected by the producers) (*1).
Bill McCormack and a man called Caribou were once good friends, but they went separate ways in life, ending up on different sides of the law: Bill McCormack became a Mountie, Caribou a gambler going astray. After a series of violent events, Bill was forced to turn in his former friend. Things were complicated by the fact that Caribou's fiancée Elizabeth fell in love with Bill and gave birth to a son, Jimmy, who's about ten years old when Bill receives the news that Caribou has escaped from jail and sworn to take revenge. Instead of going after Bill, Caribou kidnaps Jimmy and flees into the mountains, knowing that Bill will come after him ...
In spite of the snow-capped slopes, Giubbe Rosse (*2) bears no relationship to Sergio Corbucci's The Great Silence. Apparently it was made to cash in on the popularity of the Zanna Bianca movies. The script went through many hands and the numerous re-writings of Montefiori's original story seem to have led to a certain prolixity. While Caribou is trying to trap Bill McCormack, he himself is persecuted by a group of fortune seekers who are after a stash of gold he has hidden somewhere in the mountains. The mid-section is plodding but the characters are far from one-dimensional and the story eventually takes a few unexpected turns, leading to melodramatic twist ending in which the true relationship of the two leads is revealed. Giubbe Rosse is not a bad movie at all; it's well acted, well-directed and well-shot (the Pyrenees falling in for the Rockies), but spaghetti western fans may find fault with this melodramatic, needlessly sentimental ending. Lynne Frederick (who was also cast alongside Testi in Four of the Apocalypse) sings a song but her appearance is otherwise deceptively brief. Lionel Stander has a nice cameo as a hard-drinking doctor.
- (1) Marco Giusti, Dizionario del western all'italiana
- (2) I have used the common US title Red Coat for this review, but the original Italian title Giubbe Rosse is plural, meaning Red Coats
Director: Joe d'Amato (Aristide Massaccesi) - Cast: Fabio Testi, Guido Mannari, Lynne Frederick, Lionel Stander, Robert Hundar (Claudio Undari), Lars Bloch, Renato Cestiè, Daniele Dublino, Wendy Deborah D’Olive, Aldo Cecconi, Geoffrey Copleston, Bruno Corazzari - Music: Carlo Rustichelli