W Django! Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
W Django! (1971, Edoardo Mulargia) - See Database Page
Upon finding his wife dead from a gunshot wound, Django (Anthony Steffen) sets out for revenge, committed to tracking down all bandits involved in the murder of his consort. Owing to the fact that he was absent that night, he is forced to team up with a petty horse thief by the name of Carranza (Glauco Onorato) who is the only person capable of recognizing all the culprits...
Mulargia's body of work essentially breaks down into two separate categories: rather formulaic spin-offs largely predicated on themes and motifs found in much more renowned genre examples as well as more unusual, stylish and perplexing oddities such as El Puro or less convincing Shango, whose basic purpose is to break away from established conventions by interjecting psychedelic and oddball touches to the otherwise straightforward tales. W Django! happens to fall into the former category with its generous disposition of gunplay and ample assortment of genre platitudes, some of which are clearly derived from the Leone trilogy among other things. Although the fairly routine revenge story is not a direct derivative of any concrete genre outing, there is no denying that the relationship between Steffen's and Onorato's characters is somewhat reminiscent of the one between Blondie and Tuco in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, whereas Steffen's musical contraption, which he shows to his selected enemies so as to remind them of the fateful night and the demise of his wife, is resonant of Colonel Mortimer's chiming clock and so is his quest for revenge; the way the tale of vendetta is presented is also evocative of Petroni's Death Rides a Horse to a certain extent and the final twist is especially indicative of this lead as well.
Overall, the motion picture effectively constitutes a riff on Leone's narrative devices and meshes them in order to create a new piece of work altogether, unfortunately, failing to take the time to expand on these basic ideas as well as situational shticks and opting for the more action-oriented direction instead. Mulargia approaches the subject matter in the same way as he does in Cjamango, that is by reworking the general concept, putting layer upon layer and restructuring different formulas, but without straying away from the source material too much; this means the final product ends up feeling like a low-budgeted reformulation of endeavors that are much superior both in terms of elaboration and execution.
Mulargia's simpler ventures were never graced by adequate production values or complex designs, which manifested itself in various technical shortcomings, and this is also true to some degree here. However, W Django! does not appear to be plagued by budgetary constraints to the same extent as Mulargia's previous efforts. Director's framing as well as his overall sense of style really come to shine within the context of this more robust structure and readily become apparent in numerous outbursts of ferocious action. Nevertheless, the tasteful execution and the overall grittiness of film's content are partially sapped by the inclusion of low-brow gags persistently reminiscent of the fact we're dealing with a late period effort inevitably tainted with the obnoxiously meretricious commercial necessities at this particular time in the industry. I have to say I was not appalled by its comedic bits nearly as much as some people were, but it isn't exactly something you would call sophisticated humor and this partly detracts from the final result as well.
Anthony Steffen is his usual self, you know, as graciously wooden as the finest mahogany. This doesn't seem to be much of a problem in consideration of movie's semi-facetious nature and his performance here proves surprisingly appropriate and generally amusing in light of flick's more lighthearted content. Glauco Onorato's portrayal of the Tuco clone is not too shabby either, even though I do not find his presence and his role in general to be much of any use here outside of the rather effective denouement. Stelio Candelli's interpretation of the role of Jeff lacks the kind of punch and charisma which distinguishes the most memorable villains in the genre, but he does the job like you'd expect him to and the relative ineffectuality of the antagonist is principally due to the perfunctory writing rather than his acting in and of itself.
The cinematography by Marcello Massiocchi is dexterous enough to extract the gracefulness and dynamism of Mulargia's direction through a number of neat looking tracking shots greatly amplifying the exuberance of filmed action sequences alongside the brisk editing. The score by Piero Umiliani along with its soaring arpeggios and the characterfully twanging electric guitar is most likely one of the most distinctive and pleasing soundtracks in the history of the genre. Umiliani superbly captures the essence of what makes spaghetti western scores so remarkably enjoyable and then imparts his personal signature to the entirety of the soundtrack, making it simultaneously genreworthy and quite unique in its own right. It caught my attention back when I was on the point of exploring the basics of the genre and has remained with me for all those years independently of this film's existence. It isn't anything that special, yet it has this specific quality, this sort of catchiness which makes it so special within the field.
While there is nothing out of the ordinary here and a large portion of the material might qualify as quite pedestrian on account of the rather uninspired scripting and overarching one-dimensionality, W Django! ultimately ends up being quite diverting despite its pervasive lack of originality and the sporadic insertion of exasperatingly inane comedic tricks. This is not a must-see, but might be of interest to seasoned genre fans.
Dir: Edoardo Mulargia - Cast: Anthony Steffen, Stelio Candelli, Glauco Onorato, Donato Castellaneta, Esmeralda Barros, Simone Blondel, Chris Avram, Riccardo Pizzuti, Attilio Severini, Giovanni Cianfriglia, Remo Capitani, Furio Meniconi, Omero Capanna, Fortunato Arena - Music: Piero Umiliani
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