Shoot, Gringo, Shoot Review
- Year: 1968
- Director: Bruno Corbucci
- Music: Sante Romitelli
- Starring: Brian Kelly, Fabrizio Moroni, Keenan Wynn, Folco Lulli
Outlaw Stark escapes from prison and after killing the man who sent him there, he is brought to Senor Quintana. Quintana's son, Fidel, is living with a group of outlaws and the Senor wants his son home. He hires Stark to do this. However, Fidel does not want to go home. With an assortment of deadly misanthropes on their trail, they have to be on their guard for the journey home, where a horrible secret lies in wait.
This is the Spaghetti Western. The definitive example of the genre. It has a handsome yet mean anti-hero, a quick gunned pretty boy, comedy, saloon fights, Mexicans, twists, suspense, pretty women, and lots of shooting. Many would and will argue against this, probably opting for a Leone film to represent the genre. But Leone's films, no matter how good they are, are not really mainstream Spaghettis. They are longer, quieter, and more beautiful films and this is all mostly due to Leone's personal style. There are many different films and styles in the genre, but even if most are different than each other, they all have certain aspects seen in Eurowesterns with American elements thrown in. This film is purely Spaghetti.
The film is also like nothing else in its originality. It does not reuse an overly filmed revenge plot but something more along the lines of The Big Gundown. It focuses on a manhunt. These types of films are always very episodic but the episodes always relate to the plot or at least fit in the film. This happened with BG and here too. Beyond the manhunt, there are similarities between these two films. They both feature two protagonists who are initially enemies but end friends. There is the twist at the end and so on. However, this film is not a political film. It tells a simple story that focuses on character rather than action. Even if there is a lot of action.
Because of the simplicity of the film, it never seems to try and become something that it is not. It knows what it is and stays true to itself all the way through. The plot is very simple and easy to follow. You never lose contact with the plot. Because of this, you can enjoy the action and entertainment and develop a liking for the characters at the same time. The focus of the film is on relationships and friendship, respectively. It has the usual Spaghetti excess but it fits here like a glove. It will not distract you from the film and it doesn't go off in other directions. The occasional excess does not take over the film but uses the right amount. Because of this, it aids the film. If excess is overdone or if it lasts too long it will hurt the film but if done right, it is a thing of beauty. Everything in the film is very balanced.
The excess here is a major aspect because of the reasons I mention. People can feel insulted with ridiculousness. This film uses excess to good effect in the numerous set pieces. They use comedy in a saloon fight. It lasts for seconds but is not long enough to slip into ridiculousness. There are some good aspects to some gunfights. When Stark is captured by soldiers, Fidel rescues him. He uses a melon to suppress the noise of his gun like a silencer and seems to be feeding horses alcohol. It is a good scene. Sometimes the excess seems so small, that it is hardly noticeable.
One reason this has a great Spaghetti feel is the reuse of old fashioned, unique cliches. A bridge crossing is filmed in 30's adventure style with guys hanging from broken planks. Also, there is the whip seen in several old time westerns. Also the pretty boy cliche. Although not necessarily old fashioned, still cliched. The ending twist is the quintessential Spaghetti cliche which I should not dwell too deep into.
The directing is very good. What might catch some attention is the fact that this is the only serious western director Bruno Corbucci made. Also he is Sergio Corbucci's brother which is interesting. Interesting to watch a different Corbucci's film. He uses some very good camera work and films the action scenes very well. Beyond the quick editing between shooting and falling, and the normal stationary camera, he also films some parts of the action with a handheld camera that puts us right in the action so to speak. He does not overdo the action and adds some great character developing scenes in between.
The acting is good. Nothing great but Kelly and Moroni go good together. They make the relationship believable and there are some fights between the two so the predator and prey scenario works even better. Keenan Wynn provides the comedy relief. He has a strange fondness for ducks and threatens his men with death if they dare harm his beloved pet duck. Even kissing the duck! Folco Lulli plays the fat Mexican villain, Senor Quintana. His snake like appearances do wonders for his villainous performance. He has almost no screen time as the bulk of the film is devoted to Moroni and Kelly.
The music is very good. Somewhat different with a continuous beat and harp's chord. The main theme is rather catchy and the added lyrics at the end are equally good. I have no idea what they mean but they sound poetic. A curious music piece sounds more like a Caribbean song rather than a Spaghetti Western. Steel drums and bass guitar give it away. It also seems apparent that this Caribbean theme was reused in Bruno Corbucci's infamous Three Musketeers of the West. Great music score by Sante Romitelli.
The perfect spaghetti Western. You do have to notice the balance to get the best effect but it is pretty much good all around. Good characters, music, action, and plot. A pure Spaghetti Western. Not too much, not too little, just right.
Reviewed DVD: Koch Media. A very good quality disc but lacks English audio. It does have English subtitles with German or Italian audio. Westerns All'Italiana for extras. 30 minute documentary basically explaining Spaghetti Western to ignorant American viewers. Narrated by Frank Wolff. Features footage from I Came I Saw I Shot, Great Silence, Ringo: Face of Revenge and Kill Them All and Come Back Alone.