NAVAJO JOE (1966)

NAVAJO JOE (1966)

Director: Sergio Corbucci

Staring: Burt Reynolds, Aldo Sambrell, Fernando Rey, 

Viewed on Amazon Prime

Great transfer

navjojoe

This is a remarkable spaghetti western starring Burt Reynolds. For those not familiar, Sergio Corbucci also directed The Great Silence, which is another killer western.

 I’ve seen the movie poster for Navajo Joe around forever, but for some reason just never had any interest in watching it.  Imagine trying to make a movie with this title today!! 

The story is that of a Native American (played by Burt Reynolds) who is named.. duh… Joe.  I know this entire premise sounds like it won’t work, but it does.  Apparently Burt Reynolds was actually part Cherokee Indian.  His part in this was originally supposed to be played by Marlon Brando (now that would NOT have worked).  

This is hands down in my opinion Burt’s role of a lifetime.  Burt however was super embarrassed by the film and always told people it was the kind of movie that was shown in prisons and on airplanes, “places where people couldn’t leave”.   He stated it was made by the wrong Sergio. 

Joe’s tribe have been wiped out by a large gang of criminals lead by the infamous and ruthless Duncan.  His woman is murdered and scalped by Duncan. This is a revenge movie in which Joe just starts picking off each and everyone in the band of murderers. The plot involves a Wells Fargo train filled with half a million dollars and a town filled with innocent god fearing cowards.  The ending is awesome and brutal as hell.  Things are super action packed with tons of fight scenes, with shoot outs on horses and trains.  Remember Burt started off as a stunt man, so he coordinated and did many and most of his own stunts.  

Like many spaghetti westerns it is entirely filmed in the desert mountains of Spain.  

All great films in this genre must have a great theme song. This music and song are bad ass and were later reused in Kill Bill by Quentin Terentino.  

Pretty awesome transfer on Prime. (NW)

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Nate Wilson: NW  Devon Cahill: DC  Heath Row: HR  Matt Average: MA

 

AND GOD SAID TO CAIN… (1970)

And God Said to Cain…
1970 Italian E Dio disse a Caino…
Starring: Klaus Kinski (Gary Hamilton), Peter Carsten (Acobar), Marcella Michelangeli (Maria),
Antonio Cantafora (Dick Acobar) 
Director: Anthony Dawson (aka Antonio Margheriti)
Music: ​ Carlo Savina 
Theme Song Performed by Don Powell
Viewed: Streaming Amazon Prime
Transfer Quality: Good
A ghost returning
And he’ll have only one desire in his heart
Only one thirst. Revenge. –Maria

dioscain

The quality of the anachronistic theme song in an Italian Western is always a good indicator of the caliber of the film to follow (i.e. Django, Keoma, any Morricone related Western, etc.), and this one is right up there. I would put this on any must see Italian Western list.

Gary Hamilton (Kinski) gets a pardon from the chain gang 10 years after being framed by power hungry Acobar (Carsten) who has stolen Hamilton’s house, mining operation, and woman, Maria. Naturally, vengeance must be administered. After Hamilton gains his freedom, an impending tornado serves as an apt means of foreboding his bloody return. It also creates a signature setting for the film where most of the action takes place at night in the midst of the ever threatening and violent windstorm. Every aspect of the tornado intensifies the anxiety surrounding Hamilton’s return; every utterance of his name evokes fear among his enemies.

The tornado also gives Hamilton’s vengeance an air of divine retribution. This is compounded by the Bava-esque eeriness of the night scenes and disorienting winds that add an other-worldliness to his nighttime attack. Using the cover of the storm and his familiarity with his old homestead, Hamilton is like a ninja, evading capture and keeping adversaries off guard while accumulating an insane number of kills single-handedly. Various trapdoors and hidden entrances allow him to move like a ghost through the mining tunnels under the town, constantly outmaneuvering Acobar’s small army. His name is repeatedly invoked in vain as he moves in the shadows, a seemingly supernatural force. The haunting effect is intensified by the tolling church bell and organ music that signal each wave of vengeful slaughter.  Some other reviewers have derided the film’s mirror room shoot-out scene climax a la Orson Welles’ Lady of Shanghai (1949) as too predictable, but I think it’s great as it adds even more nuance to Hamilton’s ghostlike elusiveness. Even in the light he isn’t really there…until you’re dead! Plus, Bruce Lee’s mirror room climax in Enter the Dragon won’t come for another three years, and no one ever complains about that scene.

Beyond the excellent visual composition and well-paced action, it’s the complexity of the characters and their relationships that ensures repeated viewings. Above all, Kinski’s performance rules in this film. Unlike his askew characters in Westerns like The Beast and The Great Silence, Gary Hamilton is cool, collected, focused, and human. Also, beneath the narrative of revenge is a complex tale of family and loyalty. While Acobar’s son, Dick, sympathizes with Hamilton throughout the film, when he learns of his father’s treachery he ultimately chooses family over what he knows in his heart to be right. Ironically, after this turn, it’s Acobar who takes his own son’s life when he mistakes him for Hamilton.

Getting old, so having to watch midnight movies in two or three installments sometimes. Anyway, during my first watch, I must have slept through the exposition that explains why Gary Hamilton is seeking vengeance against Acobar. So, I had initially credited this with a meta-vengeance film genius it didn’t quite deserve. Still, this is a real standout in the genre with a great balance of genre predictability and innovation.

I’d be curious if someone has counted the number of times “Gary Hamilton!!” is uttered throughout the film…one of my favorite details in the film. I’m also wondering about the total number of kills he tallies.  

Anyway, I’ll keep track next time and get back to you with some figures.

P.S. Apparently this is a remake of A Stranger in Paso Bravo (1968), the only film Salvatore Rosso ever directed. I’ll have to track that down for a comparison.  (DC)

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NW: Nate Wilson   DC: Devon Cahill   MA: Matt Average