Comanche Blanco Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
Revision as of 18:12, 19 January 2009 by Scherpschutter
- Dir: José Briz
- Cast: William Shatner, Joseph Cotten, Perla Cristal, Rosanna Yanni
From all American TV-actors who gave it a try in European westerns, William Shatner must be the most unlikely. Most people of this planet (and several others I suppose) know him as the Captain James T. Kirk of the inter-galactic space ship Enterprise from the TV series Star Trek. Many critics have ridiculed his excursion to Italy and his double adventure as both rapist and lover of Italian beauty Rosanna Yanni, all this in the faint hope to make an Eastwood like career move. It's sometimes called the ultimate litmus test for Shatner fans: if you like this one, you may call yourself a genuine Shatner junkie.
A few remarks first: those of you with any notice of the Latin language group, will have noticed that the original title, Comanche Blanco, is Spanish. Technically this is not a spaghetti western but a paella western. It's not even a co-production with Italy, so Shatner never set foort on Italian soil, at least not for this movie. Furthermore Rosanna Yanni is not Italian but Argentine. And although it's all but great, the film is not as hopeless as it is reputed to be. The story about two half-breed twin brothers from a white father and a Comanche mother, raised by the tribe, has some interesting elements, but the film is marred by some awful scripting and - above all - a low, low, very low budget; some scenes shot on soundstages even have painted mountains in the background!
Both raised by the Comanche, one of two half-breed twin brothers, Johnny, has decided to live as a white man; the other, Notah, has peyote-induced visions in which he leads the Comanche once again to glory (a clear reference to the incidents among the Sioux concerning the Sun Vow ceremony that eventually led to Wounded Knee). Johnny is almost hanged for crimes Notah has committed, such as an attack on a stagecoach and the rape of a female passenger. After having escaped from the lynching mob, Johnny himself saves a man from the noose . He is offered a job in the town where he and his brother have decided to meet within a few days to settle the score once and for all. The man whose life he saved, belongs to one of the two warring factions who strife for domination of the region (a nice reference to A Fistful of Dollars/Per un pugno di dollari), so he's in the middle of a war too. To make matters still worse, the woman who was raped by his twin brother, holds him responsible for the act and tries to shoot him ...
Awfully shot and badly written, the film still manages to entertain as one of the genre's utmost oddities. The best thing about it, is Cotton - in the last of his three European westerns - as a wise and knowing sheriff who tries to maintain the peace. Shatner is no match for him but he delivers the expected one-liners with bravery (Cotton: I noticed that your horse has no brand. Shatner: You'll find no brand on me either). To see him in war-paint and thrust a tomahawk is truly a unique film experience. Argentine beauty Yanni, who made a career as a heroin in European horror movies, may not be the greatest of actresses, but her screen persona is so strong that we even accept that she falls for the spitting image of her rapist. The other actors, looking very Spanish and talking with strong accents, all do their job decently, without making much impression. The action scenes are rather well executed, but the director has an almost laughable predilection for shots between the eyes. And oh, for what it's worth: a homosexual friend of mine told me that Shatner looked great with war-paint (and a naked upper part of the body).
Reviewed version: The film is part of the 3DVDs/9Films box of St. Clair Vision. The transfer is full-screen and very poor; the colour palet often changes from too yellow to too green in one and the same scene and - even worse - white turns to pink from time to time, nearly damaging my already reduced eyesight. Luckily the film was awfully shot in the first place. The audio, DD 5.1 virtual surround, is loud and clear, but not free from hiss and other secondary sounds. And - need I say that? - I spotted no surround effects.