Viva Carrancho! Review

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An early Spanish oater starring Luis Davila and Fernando Sancho as two escaped prisoners,‭ one from Texas, the other from ‬across the border‭; ‬they’re still shackled to one another when they decide to cross the Rio Grande,‭ ‬in order to reach Mexico,‭ ‬the most beautiful country in the world,‭ ‬where everybody can lead a quiet and happy life.‭ ‬That is:‭ ‬according to Carrancho (Fernando, who else).‭ ‬The two will come down with a bump:‭ ‬they are hired by a mine owner‭ (‬Carrancho as a cook,‭ ‬the other for being quick on the draw‭) ‬and discover that Morton treats the local peones like slaves.‭ ‬Carrancho proclaims himself general and starts a people’s revolution‭ ‬...‭ ‬Viva Carrancho‭!

While watching the opening scene,‭ ‬some of us will think of The Defiant Ones,‭ ‬starring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier as two men who are chained together and must therefore co-operate in order to survive,‭ ‬but Viva Carrancho is not a buddy movie by any stretch of the imagination and the social comment‭ (‬there is some‭) ‬is rather muddled.‭ ‬Sancho and Davila do not really act as a duo,‭ ‬they have their own scenes and only cross paths to save each others lives on a few occasions.‭ ‬Thanks to the success of Los Pistoleros de Arizona ($5000 on an Ace),‭ ‬Sancho had quickly become a star in his home country‭ (‬and would soon become one in Italy‭) ‬and it’s my idea that he was promoted from side-kick to lead actor in the course of the production.‭ ‬Davila‭ ‬-‭ ‬probably the intended protagonist,‭ ‬eventually becomes a supporting actor in Sancho’s movie.

Viva Carrancho must be one of the first Euro westerns featuring exploited Mexican peones.‭ ‬It could be interpreted as a precursor of the Zapata western,‭ ‬notably those by Sergio Corbucci.‭ ‬Robert Woods‭ ‬-‭ ‬for once playing the bad guy‭ ‬-‭ ‬is a New World capitalist exploiting third world laborers and the film offers a mix of violent action and burlesque comedy‭; ‬there’s even a pacifist in the style of professor Xantos,‭ ‬who warns the rebels that things are getting out of hand.‭ ‬But the director‭ (*‬1‭) ‬is no Corbucci:‭ ‬the comedy is often more laughable than funny and some of the violence (Sancho shooting four men that come from the toilet one by one) is rather tasteless. A couple of jokes work: Sancho has a coin with heads on both sides, so he wins every coin toss and there’s at least one very wry joke that seems to come out of Corbucci’s comedy book:‭ ‬when the murderers of three peones are captured,‭ ‬Carrancho sentences them to death and asks the three victims if they have any objections.‭ ‬Nobody‭? ‬Case closed.‭

Viva Carrancho is far more violent than Los Pistoleros de Arizona.‭ ‬Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars had obviously done its work:‭ ‬one scene‭ ‬-‭ ‬Davila crawling to safety after being tortured by Morton’s men‭ ‬-‭ ‬is almost a copy of a key scene in Leone’s movie,‭ ‬with a heavily wounded Clint Eastwood escaping from the Rojos.‭ ‬Robert Woods seems to enjoy himself as the baddie‭; ‬he almost has his own mini-movie,‭ ‬co-starring Loredana Nusciak as the maltreated wife who does the revolution a favor by turning against her evil husband.‭

‭Dir: Alfonso Balcazar - Cast: Fernando Sancho, Luis Davila, Robert Woods, Loredana Nusciak, ‬Gérard Tichy, Renato Baldini, Ely Drago, Antonio Molino Rojo, Francisco Sanz, José Manuel Martin - Music: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino

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  • 1) The film is officially credited to Alfonso Balcazar, but Robert Woods seems to remember that is was actually his brother Jesus who directed it

--By Scherpschutter

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