Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Spaghetti Western Review
GLI SPECIALISTI (THE SPECIALIST) 1969 d. Sergio Corbucci Cast: Johnny Halliday, Sylvie Fennec. Francois Fabian, Mario Adorf, Serge Marquand
In the late sixties director Sergio Corbucci made four notable spaghetti westerns in a row--the classics THE MERCENARY, THE GREAT SILENCE, THE SPECIALIST, and COMPANEROS. Three of these, all except THE SPECIALIST, are constantly turning up on ten best lists when spaghetti westerns are rated. Until recently all I had seen was a very poor quality compilation with some English, some Italian, a fuzzy picture, and it was nearly incomprehensible. Now, having seen a beautiful widescreen version with subtitles (still in two languages, however), I can safely include THE SPECIALIST in that group of four classics. Johnny Halliday is very good as the charismatic Hud, a notorious hand with the gun returning to Blackstone to investigate the death of his brother, who was lynched by the townspeople for losing their savings. It involves a voluptuous beauty who owns the bank, a Mexican bandit leader, El Diablo, who was once friends with Hud, an honest sheriff who dreams of better days, and a small band of hippies--well, it was the late sixties, and hippies were everywhere, even apparently in our westerns. It's not a desert western, shot in the alps somewhere, and is lovely to look at. There is a bit more nudity than I expect in a western, but that's not a bad thing. Sylvie Fennec is lovely as Sheba, who may be Hud's niece, or dead brother's girlfriend...that's never made clear. This film deserves to be seen, and once again, we plea for a nice DVD with all the trimmings--I think THE SPECIALIST would be as well known as any of Corbucci's other westerns, and that's high praise indeed.