Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Lo chiamavano Tresette... giocava sempre col morto / In the West There Was a Man Named Invincible / Man Called Invincible / Tricky Dicky

Recently I revisited a couple of Giuliano Carnimeo / Anthony Ascott's Sartana films as part of the box set. These proved to be an ideal grounding for watching this 1973 comedy spaghetti from the director, which stars George Hilton, Cris Huerta and Evelyn Stewart.

The plot, which involves the secret transportation of a shipment of gold – one that everyone and their dog seems to know about, indicating that things are not entirely on the level – is as complicated as any of the official Sartana entries.

Technological gimmicks are similarly prevalent, most notably in Tresette/Tricky Dicky's (Hilton's) music boxes, which variously also function as Gatling guns and explosively in a proto “candygram for Mongo” fashion.

The general tone of the film, however, is more akin to the Trinity series, with plenty of cartoon and slapstick humour, including an actual pie-fight and a gag in which the heroes escape from (the sheriff's own) jail by painting out the bars of their cell to make it look like they have escaped; nor does anyone ever gets killed by one of the music boxes, only humiliated.

Hilton and Huerta likewise form a kind of Hill and Spencer pairing, of brains and brawn respectively – Huerta's Bambi (Bambino?) having been appointed sheriff in MacPherson/MacPiedish's (sic) town, Apple Pie City, because he appears a born loser (read honest) whose career so far has been a series of moves to less and less prestigious posts, beginning with Kansas City. (This also provides a clue: those in power in that notoriously corrupt place didn't want him around, given the tendency of Dicky to follow in his wake.)

One thus gets the impression that Carnimeo and his collaborators took a Sartana script, renamed their protagonist and chose to play up the comedy aspect. This is perhaps best epitomised by the black clad gunfighter Twinkletoes who doggedly follows Dicky around challenging him duel after duel, without ever winning nor being taken out in the more serious “playing for keeps” manner Sartana would have employed when necessary.

Stylistically the film is very much like most other Carnimeo films I have seen: He is not afraid to try out just about any technique you can think of – crash zooms, whip pans, accelerated motion etc. – but does so in a way that makes even a Sergio Corbucci appear disciplined by comparison.

Examples of the comic-book visuals

Needless to say it doesn't all work – the likes of the Bent Gang and the Closet Cousins are somewhat lazy gags, with the double-entendres and one-liners equally hit and miss (“I find her a bit dykey, Dicky” another example of going for easy targets) – but enough of it does for the film to be worth a look if you are in the right mood, with Hilton's easy charm and the fact that everyone involved was clearly having fun themselves definite plus points.

Finally, it was a strange coincidence that on the IMDB today the quote of the day came from Frost/Nixon. Richard: “That's our tragedy, you and I Mr. Frost. No matter how high we get, they still look down at us.”

[See also: http://www.europeanfilmreview.co.uk/eurowestern/man_called_invincible.htm and http://www.doomedmoviethon.com/reviews2/203mancalledinvincible.htm]

No comments: