A Hole in the Forehead Film Review
In the days of the Alamo, a treasure was stolen by three soldiers of Santa Anna's army and hidden in a secret place. When combined, the information written on three playing cards will reveal the whereabouts. The cards are in possession of Mungaya, a ruthless bandit who calls himself 'general', Morienda, a drifter, and Garrincha, an outlaw. Morienda has made an appointment with the famous gunman Billy Blood in a monastery, but at his arrival he is severely wounded (by some of Munguya's men, who were on his trail) and can only hand over his card and utter a few words. Blood infiltrates the gang of Munguya but is exposed by the bandit and beaten up. In the meantime Garrincha sets up a trap for Munguya with the help of a double-crossing arms-dealer. The three men finally meet at the monastery where the treasure is hidden.
The movie combines familiar story elements from Sergio Leone's Dollar movies and Sergio Corbucci's Django (note the machine gun and the 'virtuous prostitutes'), but director Vari makes them all feel a little different and he sure knows how to create a real spaghetti western atmosphere. The opening scene, Ghidra riding through a deserted landscape for minutes and minutes, will have you in the right mood immediately, not in the least because of Roberto Pregadio's score; it's not on a par with his famous work for The Forgotten Pistolero, but it's a fine score nonetheless, fusing melancholic organ pieces in the style of Procul Harum with a relaxed Spanish guitar, exquisitely played by Mario Gangi. Ghidra is his usual stoic self as the gunman who shoots all opponents through the forehead (from the hip, no less); he also has a pretty awkward scene in which he puts two prostitutes 'to sleep' by banging their heads against each other. Robert Hundar is everything Ghidra is not: loud, talkative and hyper active; he's also wearing one of the biggest sombreros in the history of the genre.
A Hole in the Forehead seems to divide genre fans (even the visitors of our forum). We get a couple of sudden shootouts and arms wrestling over spikes, but this is one of those spagghies that rely more on atmosphere than action. The script, by Adriano Bolzoni, has a few shortcomings: The treasure hunt is a three horse race, but A Hole in the Forehead basically is a two character movie, Blood versus Munguya. When the two face each other outside the monastery, Garrincha enters the stage and we seem to be heading for a thee way finale, but he's quickly carried off again, as if Bolzoni had no place for him in his plans (which probably was the case). The inevitable sandpits almost ruin the visual experience, but other locations are well-chosen. With both the opening and the conclusion set in a monastery, and the main villain's hideout located in some kind of catacomb, the always lurking religious symbolism is more emphatic than ever. Wearing only a loincloth, Ghidra is even dressed (or better: undressed) to make him look like the Christ during the beating-up scene. It's quite an uneasy scene, glorifying Christian iconography and at the same time flirting with blasphemy, but that is what the genre is all about, at least in its best moments.
- Nomen est omen: one character is called Murienda (muriendo = dying) because he only enters the movie to die; Billy kills a lot of opponents and is therefore called Blood. Other names are quite colorful as well: Garrincha is named after a football player who wasn't even born in the days of Santa Anna and one of the prostitutes is named Encarnacion
Director: Giuseppe Vari - Cast: Anthony Ghidra, Robert Hundar, Rosy Zichel, Corinne Fontaine, Gianni Brezza, Gino Marturano, Giorgio Gargiulo, Elsa Janet Waterston, Giuseppe Addobati, Mirella Pamphili, Bruno Cataneo, Mario Dardanelli, Giuseppe Castellano - Music: Roberto Pregadio