Obliged. Anyone for Checkers?
Ride in the Whirlwind is directed by Monte Hellman and written by Jack Nicholson. It stars Nicholson, Cameron Mitchell, Millie Perkins and Dean Stanton. Music is by Robert Jackson Drasnin and cinematography by Gregory Sandor.
Three honest cowboys stop to rest for the night at a cabin occupied by outlaws led by Blind Dick (Stanton). Upon awakening in the morning they find themselves surrounded by a vigilante posse and forced to flee as fugitivesâ¦
Filmed back to back with The Shooting in Kanab, Utah, Ride in the Whirlwind has something big to say without actually saying that much!
It's a sombre Western piece that deals in the tragedy brought about by a miscarriage of justice. It also finds Hellman and Nicholson reaching into the belly of the Western mythos and pulling out its guts to reveal a shallow hole of boredom and dirt covered grafters. This works to a large degree by way of the portrayals of weary cowboys (nice subtle performances by Nicholson and Mitchell really help) and the mundane ranch life of a family who are coerced into harbouring the fugitives. The air of authenticity and rich period detail, as well, is highly commendable. However, the laborious pace will annoy many and some actions and scenarios played out are a little hard to swallow. It's a mixed bag but very much a film that Western fans should see though. 7/10
Django, you drag your coffin around, coffin around, coffin around.
Django is directed by Sergio Corbucci and it stars Franco Nero, JosÃ© BÃ³dalo, Loredana Nusciak, Ãngel Ãlvarez and Eduardo Fajardo.
Django (Nero), dragging a coffin behind him, saves a woman from some bandits and soon finds himself in the middle of war between two factions - which he may be able to use to his advantage.
1966 was a stellar year for Spaghetti Westerns, Leone was putting the crown on his "Dollars" trilogy, Damiani produced a political firecracker and Sollima crafted one of the finest "manhunt" Oaters of this sub-genre. Then there is this, Django, a Pasta Western that is synonymous with the form.
I fought for the North!
Django is a treat, it's violent and cruel, funny and cheeky, and pleasing on the eyes and ears - so pretty much it contains all the best things that made the original wave of Spaghetti's so palatable. Undeniably it owes a "lot" to A Fistful of Dollars and Yojimbo, but it's still its own beast, a baroque Gothic piece of work that positively revels in nihilism. The graphic violence is wonderfully cartoonish, the iconography unbound, and in Nero - eyes likes chips of ice - the pic has one of the coolest and baddest men on the planet. Nusciak brings the sex and sizzle, coming off like a Spag Raquel Welch, whilst the villains are delightfully vile and scuzzy.
The setting is superb, a muddy cold hell of a town with a brothel as the fulcrum of the piece. Naturally there's a cemetery, which will play host to some of that iconography mentioned earlier. Religion gets short shrift, racial prejudice given a caustic once over, while it's worth mentioning there's more than a hint of social realism pulsing away as Corbucci brings the blood and thunder. OK! It's light in plotting, and it's not even Corbucci's best film, but the stylised violence, the visuals and a cracking soundtrack easily take you away from the fodder of the story.
It would spawn a multitude of rip-offs, name checks and influence a whole host of film makers, but this is the real deal. A Spag Western worth revisiting to see just when it was a sub-genre of quality, this before hundreds of poor band wagon jumpers began to soil the Spaghetti Western name. 8.5/10
Big heavyweight movie all round.
Directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne & Robert Mitchum, it's safe to say that El Dorado comes with some pretty tough credentials. Thankfully the expectation that comes with such a teaming is well and truly met. The plot is a familiar one in the context of Wayne & Hawks, if you have seen Rio Bravo? And liked it? The chances are you will like this one too.
Wayne is Cole Thornton, a hired gun who is asked to come on the payroll of El Dorado landowner Bart Jason (Ed Asner), who is involved with a land struggle with the MacDonald family. But Cole finds his old friend J.P. Harrah (Mitchum) is sheriff of the town, and J.P. advises his old pal that any involvement with Jason will result in J.P. enforcing the law. As it transpires, circumstances between the MacDonald's and Cole lead to Cole taking arms against Jason and his thug followers. So the sheriff, an old Indian fighter called Bull Harris (Arthur Hunnicutt) & a young gambler, who's handy with a knife, called Alan Bourdillion 'Mississippi' Traherne (James Caan), aim to bring down the might of Jason together.
Adapted from the book The Stars in Their Courses by Harry Brown, this was the second to last film that Howard Hawks would direct. And coming as it did in the late 60s it appears to be somewhat undervalued on the great director's CV. Probably due in no small part to the regard that Rio Bravo is held, of which this is pretty much a remake of. Yet, and I whisper it quietly, El Dorado is arguably the better film in terms of performances and the telling of Hawksian themes.
Given that Wayne & Mitchum were good friends away from the screen, it's no great surprise to find the chemistry between them is top dollar. They feed of each others' machismo to deliver a tough picture, yet one that's still joyously fun. The end result is a pic that manages to deftly portray many themes, such as loyalty, togetherness, forgiveness, respect and professionalism. The two principal stars are aided by both Caan and Hunnicutt, who offer a notable young & old side of the mythical West, with age, and ageing, a prominent point of note played out by the knowing director.
El Dorado looks to be a film where all involved are comfortable in what they are making. Nothing feels forced or hindered by pointless filler. It's true that the film is more in favour of dialogue over bravado action; though what action there is is adroitly handled by the old hands and the youthful Caan with his sawn off shotgun. This is a story without gimmicks, one which isn't ambling along as an excuse for a shoot out come the end. There's a lot to be said for good old fashioned story telling, and we get that here. Intelligence and sincerity throughout, and it's damn funny to boot, El Dorado is a fine movie that holds up very well in each and every decade that passes. 8/10
I'm looking for the owner of that horse. He's tall, blonde, he smokes a cigar, and he's a pig!
It's debatable of course, since there are legions of fans of the first two films in Sergio Leone's Dollars Trology, but with each film there not only came a longer running time, but also a rise in quality - debatable of course!
Here for the third and final part of the trilogy, Leone adds Eli Wallach to the established pairing of Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood, and brings all his tools of the trade to the party. Plot is slight, the three principals are on a collision course to find some buried gold, with each man having varying degrees of scuzziness, so how will it pan out?
Such is the genius of the narrative, it's a fascinating journey to undertake. The characterisations are ripe and considered, the various traits and peccadilloes beautifully enhanced, and with Leone being Leone, there's no shortage of cruelty and humour. He also brings his style, the close ups, long shots and some outstanding framing of characters in various situations.
The story encompasses The Civil War, which pitches our leads into "The Battle of Branston Bridge", where here we get to see just how great Leone was at constructing full on battle sequences. It's exciting, thrilling and literally dynamite, whilst Aldo GiuffrÃ¨ as Captain Clinton turns in some memorable support.
The Euro locations pass muster as the Wild West, superbly photographed by Tonino Delli Colli, and then of course there is Ennio Morricone's musical compositions. It's a score that has become as iconic as Eastwood's Man With No Name, a part of pop culture for ever more. It mocks the characters at times, energises them at others, whilst always us the audience are aurally gripped.
There's obviously some daft coincidences, this is after all pasta world, and the near three hour run time could be construed as indulgent. But here's the thing, those who love The Good, The Bad and the Ugly could quite easily stand for another hour of Leone's classic. I mean, more barbed dialogue, brutal violence and fun! Great, surely!
From the sublime arcade game like opening credit sequences, to the legendary cemetery stand-off at the finale, this is a Western deserving of the high standing it is held. 9/10
You will be alive when I bury you in the grave of my son.
Duel at Diablo is directed by Ralph Nelson and co-adapted to screenplay by Michael M. Grilikhes & Marvin H. Albert from Albert's own novel, Apache Rising. It stars James Garner, Sidney Poitier, Bibi Andersson, Dennis Weaver and Bill Travers. Music is by Neal Hefti and cinematography by Charles F. Wheeler.
Searching for the man responsible for killing his Comanche wife, Jess Remsberg (Garner) is crossing the desert when he rescues Ellen Grange (Andersson) from the Apache and returns her to her husband Willard (Weaver) at Fort Creel. After a run in with Toller (Poitier), an ex-trooper who now makes his living supplying and breaking in horses for the cavalry, both men wind up joining a cavalry party carrying supplies to Fort Concho. With the Apache angry about their treatment by the white man, this party are at great risk travelling through Diablo Canyon. And so it proves, where joined by the Granges, secrets will out and Apache will attackâ¦.
Obviously intended to be driven by a strong racial dynamic between whites and Indians, Duel at Diablo never really follows through on its promise of something more cutting. With full development instead of snatches of politics, both sexual and racial, this could have been thematically as dynamite as the picture is as a Western war piece. However, its strengths are many, and Western fans after violence and reams of action get fully paid up here. Nelson's (Soldier Blue) film barely pauses for breath as the director crams as much in as he can, fisticuffs, pursuits, shoot outs, warfare, torture, explosions and lots of blood, all of which get their respective day in the sun. The stunt work is top notch and the writing at least allows for some intelligent tactical thinking to be shown by both sides during the Diablo Canyon siege.
It's also rich in characterisations: Remsberg is driven by revenge (Garner channelling Randy Scott from the Boetticher movies): Ellen, once captured by the Apache and taken as a bride and a mother to a half-breed baby, she's treated like a disease by the town folk: Willard, her husband, carries that burden, but not with ease: Toller, a black man who has served his time in the army, he now wears dandy clothes and answers to nobody: Lt. Scotty McAllister (Travers), the archetypal hero in waiting officer. All are interesting characters, and crucially they are given very good portrayals by the actors. Wheeler expertly photographs the Kanab, Utah, locale to form a beautiful, yet imposing, backdrop, and Hefti's score is very different, a blending of styles, it's part spaghetti, part traditional and part Hippy Woodstock!
A ripper of an entertainer that's better than the standard Cavalry v Indians Oater the plot synopsis suggests. But you will most likely come away thinking it should have had more conviction thematically. 7.5/10
Think we pretty much agree, I wasn't as bothered about the logic holes as yourself, in fact I really thought the warfare sequences were well played out.