Thompson 1880 Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
|THOMPSON 1880 (1966)|
Guido Zurli is one among the many unknown names of the genre. Him and people like him have only theirselves to blame for such anonymity as they most likely haven't made any substantial genre contributions. In Zurli's case, a film like Thompson 1880, is but one example of why he may be forever a forgotten name of the genre. But that's not to say the film is overtly bad. It is simply such a minor film that there really is nothing special about it. However, it is a short, simple, and to the point B grade Spaghetti that is entertaining and quite silly and if in the mood, you may find yourself enjoying the film. But to get this feeling, one must enter the experience with limited expectations. It tells of a small town that is run by a powerful grocer who pays off all other grocery shipments belonging to the town's smaller grocers. But the arrival of a down trodden gun specialist puts a wrench in the works of the Mafia-like grocery empire.
This film is rather unpopular in the Italian Western community. Its low budget, high predictability, and cheap entertainment often alienates viewers from the film. But a selected few seem to defend the film as simple and effective entertainment. It is predictable and it is nothing new. But the cheap thrills it occasionally offers make it quite a fun film. The plot is very weak and the main character uninteresting. The direction is also rather flat. But the simplicity of the plot made it a lot easier for me to enjoy the film as you don't have to take it seriously. It doesn't take itself seriously at all which makes for a few rather goofy scenes which are enjoyable for sheer camp value. There's nothing more I hate in a Spaghetti than an intricate and weak plot that is taken more seriously than entertainment value. However, when the plot is good and shares equally with the action, it makes for the best viewing. But when you don't have either, I'll settle for something along the lines of this film.
Though on the surface it is a very simple film, I found several interesting aspects to the narrative which are purely Italian. The Mafia-like control the bad grocers have over the town may be a parallel to the La Cosa Nostra and Comorra that has plagued Italy for years. In the film, they don't use direct threats. Persuasion is the preferred method. Apparently, this film was intended (or at least read as) a parody of Django. However, this barely holds up and the relatively few scenes that may contain references to Corbucci's popular film don't make it enough to count as parody. Gordon Mitchell makes a good cameo as a crippled gunfighter who's hands had been smashed with a hammer, much like Nero's character in Django. However, Mitchell's character is so small in the film that it really can't mean much. Also, the end has Martin's hero producing a "Thompson" machine gun and mowing down the villains (that's really not ruining anything), but this again comes too late to amount to complete parody. Any seriousness the film may contain is completely destroyed by the final scene of tourists in the Pentagon inspecting portraits of famed Civil War generals. Next to Sheridan's portrait is a small one of George Martin's character. The guide is ignorant as to the identity of the pictured person as if the film is trying to make some comment about the forgotten people of history!
Though it is enjoyable, the film as a whole is pretty uninspired. However, the opening scene struck me as well directed and quite effective. The rest of the film is lazily filmed. There is little action but the large number of goofy scenes makes up for this a bit. The score by Marcello Gigante is equally uninspired. It has a nice enough theme that sounds like it could have been in any number of Spaghettis but is very subtle and unmemorable. George Martin's character falls under the hero category as opposed to anti hero. Throughout the film, he wears white instead of black. He is also, as I said, among the genres least interesting heroes.
The most common reaction to the film is probably "meeeaaahhh". But since it has a nice Koch release, you might as well give it a try.
--Korano 00:28, 5 September 2010 (UTC)