Garringo Film Review
Garringo, directed by Rafael Romero Marchent, is one of the more interesting predominantly Spanish contributions to the spaghetti/paella western genre. For some reason, it's not as well-known as some of the other westerns directed by one of the Marchent brothers. With two genre regulars in good form, the movie is - metaphorically speaking - a bargain: we get two for the price of one.
Initially Garringo looks like an ordinary revenge western. Peter Lee Lawrence is Johnny, a young man who witnessed as a child how his father was killed by soldiers during the Civil War. He was adopted by a farmer who raised him as his own son and also taught him how to handle a gun. In other words: we expect Johnny to take revenge like any other avenger in a spaghetti western, but when the movies flashes forward to the present day, Johnny has become a madman, who maniacally tracks down and kills men in army uniform, removing their chevrons and putting them on his father's grave. He has also become the leader of a gang of cutthroats specialized in holding up gold transports escorted by the army. That's not the behavior of an ordinary avenger ...
And note that the film is not called after him. The title is not Johnny this or that, but Garringo. The character of Garringo is played by Anthony Steffen and he's an army officer with a dubious reputation who is released from jail by his superiors and put on Johnny's trail. We are never told why he was in jail, but when Garringo starts eliminating Johnny's friends one by one, often in gruesome fashion, we get the impression that both men are equally bad - and mad (Garringo even threatens to drown a woman if she refuses to give him the desired info!). It would have been a great idea to play out these two mad killers against each other in the second half of the movie, but once again the script takes an unexpected turn. Johnny appears to be a man with a split personality, a criminal as well as a gentleman, and Steffen - small hat and all - gets wounded and becomes a more ordinary spaghetti western gunslinger after his recovery.
Garringo is a good spaghetti western, but there's this feeling that it doesn't completely live up to its potential. Lawrence and Steffen are remarkably convincing in their respective roles, but neither of these two (rather unusual) characters is really fleshed out. There's too much pseudo-freudian psychology, and the mid-section plods a little, but both the opening and the finale and engrossing. Because neither of the two protagonists is truly admirable, you keep wondering how things will end and the melodramatic and violent conclusions is definitely out of the ordinary. The film also offers an extraordinary jump-cut when the camera, in one swift movement, jumps from Johnny's childhood days - the boy practicing target shooting - to the present day, with the young man mowing down several army officers. It's a very well executed, elegant scene that belongs to the best jump-cuts in the history of the genre
Dir: Rafael Romero Marchent - Cast: Anthony Steffen, Peter Lee Lawrence, Solvi Stubing, José Bodalo, Raf Baldassarre, Antonio Molino Rojo, Frank Braña, A. Lawrence, Maribel del Pozo, Luis Induni, Xan das Bolas, Lorenzo Robledo, Carlos Romero Marchent, Rossana Rovere, Tito Garcia - Music: Marcello Giombini