Ringo From Nebraska Review

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A stranger is offered a job on a ranch and drawn into a bloody conflict. An early eurowestern, steering a middle course between the American and Italian style of film making. Co-directed by Mario Bava

The second of three spaghetti westerns directed by Mario Bava, following The Road to Fort Alamo, followed by Roy Colt & Winchester Jack. Most fans of the director think it’s his best western, but Bava was not the only director and we do not know how much of the material was actually directed by him.

Made in 1965, when the spaghetti western was still in its infancy, the film steers a middle course between the American and Italian style. A drifter called Ringo Nebraska (1) is offered a job as a cow hand on the Hillman ranch. Hillman is threatened by his arch enemy Bill Carter, the local tyrant, who wants to chase him from the valley and also has an eye on his wife, Kay. Mrs. Hillman, on her turn, seems to have the hots for the newcomer, who is soon drawn into the conflict.

The script is a variation on Shane, minus the Kid, but with an extended - and decidedly different - role for the lady of the house. Instead of the traditional frontierswoman, virtuous and loyal, Kay Hillman is a seductress who walks around in her underwear most of the time. At one point she even performs a shadow play to seduce her husband’s employee by taken a bath behind a veil (2). The film is leisurely paced and often feels old-fashioned, but the leering sex and some fake blood add a modern flavor to it. The script is not too complicated but there are various hints at things going on behind the scenes and the seemingly predictable story-line eventually offers some nice and unexpected twists. When digging into the history of the conflict, Ringo discovers that Hillman and his wife are not as innocent as they pretended to be ...

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Ringo del Nebraska may be the most interesting of Bava's westerns, but we all know that westerns weren’t really his thing. It’s moderately entertaining, but by no means great. The action scenes are okay, but there are a couple of odd details: when the sheriff is shot, we see exit wounds but no entrance wounds! Obviously the movie was made on a tight budget: the sets look poor, a couple of ramshackle barns in empty grasslands, and although we’re told that Hillman is a stockbreeder we never see any livestock. Ken Clark is so tall and big that the western sets seem to shrink in his presence. The supporting cast is nice: Livio Lorenzon is fine as the honest, but constantly inebriated sheriff and Piero Lulli is an effective spaghetti western villain, mean-spirited, laughing most of the time. The score by Nino Oliveiro is one of the plaintive kind, there’s a nice whistling theme, a lot of trumpets and an occasional twangy guitar as well.




  • (1) In the Italian language version, when asked for his name, Clark answers he's called 'Ringo'. Hillman then asks: E poi? asking for his family name; the answer is: E poi Nebraska. Later he states that he is also from Nebraska. According to some lobby cards, the movie was originally called Nebraska Jim. Apparently the film was retitled to cash in on the success of the Ringo movies
  • (2) In a shadow play cut-out figures (shadow puppets) are held between a source of light and a translucent screen. Various effects are achieved by moving both the puppets and the light source. It had been popular for ages in South-East Asia before it was introduced in the West by Chinese immigrants. It became a popular device in nightclubs. In most cases a young woman performed a striptease while her silhoutte was projected on the screen

Dir: Antonio Roman, Mario Bava - Cast: Ken Clark, Yvonne Bastien, Piero Lulli, Alfonso Rojas, Renato Rossini, Livio Lorenzon, Paco Sanz, José Conelejas, Frank Braña - Music: Nino Oliviero

--By Scherpschutter

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