Friday, 6 June 2008

Vivi o, preferibilmente, morti / Alive or Preferably Dead / Sundance Cassidy and Butch the Kid

This Duccio Tessari western reunites the director with his Ringo star Giuliano Gemma to intermittently amusing if ultimately decidedly less noteworthy than these and their other collaborations together.

Gemma plays city slicker Monty Mulligan (his forename presumably a reference to Gemma's frequent Anglophone billing as Montgomery Wood) whose financial worries may be over if he can find his brother Ted, played by Nino Benvenuti, out west and get him to agree to their spending six months together in order to fulfil the criteria of their uncle's will and collect $300,000.

The first obstacle is that there's no love lost between the two brothers with their very different lifestyles and attitudes. The second through umpteenth come via a series of episodic adventures with outlaw Jim and his gang and some bumbling attempts at criminality by the brothers themselves, most notably when they kidnap banker's daughter Scarlett only to discover that he's quite glad to be rid of her and is in no hurry to pay the ransom. (Cue invitable “I don't give a damn” punchline.)

Thought distributed in the US under the title Sundance Cassidy and Butch the Kid and the more defensive please don't sue us tagline of “Don't confuse them with the other two,” one suspects that the more immediate model for the film and reference point for “the other two” were Terence Hill and Bud Spencer, with the brothers relationship and their slapstick antics more remiscent of the Italian than Hollywood caper western.

This is most apparent in the resolution of the bankers daughter subplot: whereas in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid the broadly comparable Katherine Ross character is there to attempt to refute the homosexual or homosocial hints that the two men might be something other than conventional red-blooded heterosexuals (how successfully it does so being another matter, in that the selfsame need to make a point of demonstrating their heterosexuality and masculinity also inevitably raises these other spectres) here we get a more juvenile, non-sexual, fraternal resolution to the whole scenario that seems to suggest that boys will be boys but little more. (Unless, of course, one wants to read the film as some sort of paean to homosexual incest.)

The film's main asset beyond Gemma's irrepressible charm, and the sense that no-one – including Tessari or such reliable supporting players as George Rigaud, who plays the wily old banker; Cris Huerta, as comic book sadist bandit; and Sydne Rome, as Scarlett – is taking things all that seriously anyway, is the operatic (well, horse opera) chorus provided by Italian country and western duo John and Wayne, whose yee-ha ballads provide an amusing commentary on the action throughout and a nice counterpoint to Gianni Ferrio's more conventional themes. (John and Wayne are also featured in the Frank Wolff narrated documentary / promo on the Italian western that was included as one of the extras in the old Blue Underground Spaghetti Western Box Set; they were a real duo of Italian country and western fans, not just an invention of this film.)


Anonymous said...

Creo que también trabajan en la cinta
Alvaro de Luna y Antonio Casas

Wow Gold said...

Nice blog. I a also ardent player of WOW GOLD. I love this game. Nice posting about wow gold. Thanks