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Run Man Run Review

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Run Man Run (Corri Uomo Corri)

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The third and final western of Sollima, a sequel to The Big Gundown, according to most people inferior, and at any rate without Lee van Cleef. The link between the two movies is Tomas Milian, reprising his role as Cuchillo Sanchez, the knife-wielding Mexican peon. With its episodic style and light-hearted approach it's a rather uneasy movie, too serious to jump on the comedy train locomoted by the Trinity movies, too jokey to sell it as a diehard spaghetti to those who love their westerns violent and nasty. But there's more than meets the eye ...

Although less complex than Sollima's other westerns, Run Man Run is a perfect example of what has been described as Sollima's meditations on how a change of circumstance can effect a change in an individual's moral outlook (1). The Big Gundown had shown the development of Cuchillo Sanchez from a peon into a social bandit who forced Lee van Cleef's ambitious bounty hunter Jonathan Corbett to make 'a choice of classes': he must either chose sides with the poor innocent guy, or with the corrupt rich people who could help him with his political career. In Run Man Run the situation is more or less reversed, it is Cuchillo Sanchez, the running man, who is changed for the better by the circumstances and the people he encounters. In the course of the movie, Cuchillo changes from a vagabond and petty thief into a future revolutionary hero.

The film opens with a burlesque scene of Cuchillo stealing a loaf of bread and almost ending up being shot by a fire squad about to execute a revolutionary. The bullets flying around his head, he runs away from the spot and jumps on his horse. It's a great symbolic opening for a movie which has its protagonist running from one place to another for most of the time. After stealing a precious watch (a gift for his fiancée) he's thrown in jail, where he happens to be sharing a cell with a revolutionary poet called Ramirez, who offers him $ 100 to break him out and to accompany him to Texas, where he has hidden a sum of $ 300.000. With the money, Ramirez wants to finance the Revolution against Diaz, but when the two men arrive in a village near the border, they are captured by the revolutionary bandit Reza. Ramirez is killed, but in his dying moments, he hands over a newspaper to Cuchillo, telling that it's a clue as to where the treasure is hidden. Cuchillo now heads for Texas, almost causing a complete wandering of the nations: also interested in the gold, are two warring revolutionary factions, an American sheriff turned bounty hunter, two French federal agents and a Salvation Army missionary, as blond as she is beautiful. And then there's his fiancée Dolores, who desperately wants to marry him, even though he's a pig ...

The film takes the form of a treasure hunt movie, and yet Sollima has expressed the opinion that Run Man Run is the most politic, the most revolutionary and even anarchic among his movies (2). In the end all characters (except for the treacherous revolutionary bandits) unite against the oppressor Diaz and are willing to give their life for freedom. Apparently Sollima saw this as a metaphor for the phase in WWII in which Italian and foreign forces formed a united front against Mussolini and his Nazi allies. Only rather late into the movie Cuchillo starts realizing what the idea of a people's revolution is all about. There's a key scene in which a fellow Mexican sacrifices himself, so that Cuchillo can go on and save the revolution (Go on, I'm not doing this for you!). The scene is echoed in the final moments, when Cuchillo and Cassidy serve as a decoy for Dolores, who's sent the other way, transporting the money to the revolutionary leader Santillana.

Run Man Run has been criticized for being too whimsical, too episodic and too long. Milian's performance has also met with some disapproval. With his mannerisms taking over, he seems to get out of touch with the Cuchillo character from the first movie. Personally I think Run Man Run is an excellent movie; if it's not Sollima's best, it may well be his most entertaining. The score, the landscape, the humor, the violence - it all gives me this nice feeling that I'm watching my favorite genre, that I'm home. But it's not without flaws: in my view there are too many characters (or groups of characters), and it also falls in a more predictable (and static) pattern once Cuchillo arrives in Texas. The knife-out with the revolutionary bandits is too protracted and repetitive and the finale tries too hard to be a copy of the famous knife-versus-gun finale of The Big Gundown. But it's still a good scene, and overall this is the Sollima movie with the best, and most stylish action moments.

There has been a lot of debate about the score. In a interview added as an extra to the Blue Underground disc, Sollima says it was written by Morricone, but several people have testified that he has accredited to Nicolai on other occasions. Morricone or Nicolai, whoever wrote it, it's a great score (3). I'm not a fan of Milian's mannerisms, but I think in this particular ( indeed often whimsical) movie, they don't hurt. I also like O'Brien. Okay, he's no van Cleef, but who is, except for Lee? Chelo Alonso and Linda Veras are of course eye candy and their catfight is a highlight. The only two characters who don't work for me, are the French guys, but Sollima obviously needed them for a couple of grim scenes. Grade A Spaghetti.



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