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.

1 comment:

  1. Hola, BHC!
    I am with you all the way on GLI SPECIALISTI!
    It is definitely one of my most favorite Corbucci films. In fac, I will be so bold as to say that I think I like it slightly more than VAMOS A MATAR COMPANEROS!
    The gundown near the end is pure chaotic brilliance! It feels like the real thing...guns going off, bullets zipping everywhere, people (the hero included!) stumbling, ducking, diving...just like it would be in real life.
    I used to say that the only thing I didn't like about the movie was the musical score. But, after having watched this film around a dozen times--the score has grown on me. I actually like it, now!

    Missed you in Tombstone, hermano!!
    Wish you could have been with us.