Unusual or even an Arthouse Spaghetti Western by the great actor and
director Robert Hossein and dedicated to his friend
Sergio Leone, who also directed the wonderful Dinner scene ... ha, ha,
probably my favourite scene in the whole film.
With this film Hossein was re-united with the lovely actress Michele
Mercier from the Angelique Saga (read more about these
glossy blockbuster films on my Cult & Classics Page 2). This is
one of the most unusual spaghetti westerns made for sure.
Robert Hossein, the brilliant actor
and interesting director, he was shunned by the pretentious dogmatic
bores of the French
New Wave film movement, and just like Jean-Pierre Melville and Claude
Sautet he was an auteur that made his own style of
films without following any dogmatic rules or whatever.
I really, really want to see his 1958 crime drama Toi, le venin
with the fascinating Marina Vlady, and also his other sadly
directed crime movie the 1964 Les yeux cernés.
These films i've only found on DVD with french audio without english
In the intro to this film we see a group of horsemen
chasing a man in a desolate landscape, catching him and hanging him
of his wife. The lynched man is Ben Caine and the woman is Maria Caine
(Michele Mercier) and he's a wanted robber.
Ben and his 2 brothers has robbed the rich land- and cattle owner Rogers,
but first after Rogers and his gang of killers had stolen
cattle and land from the Caine brothers.
The Widow dressed in black looks up an old friend (and
possible ex-boyfriend) who's hiding out in a dilapidated Ghost Village
(a very interesting setting these rundown houses, almost ruins) and
asks for his help, offering him money also, for extracting a
bloody revenge on Rogers and his men. The ex-gunman is Manuel (Robert
Hossein) and he accepts the mission.
But, he's not the usual spaghetti western hero as he's not a
good man. At a saloon he murders 3 innocent men just to be
to infiltrate Roger's gang, and he succeeds, and he's hired as a foreman
(and gunman underling) at the Rogers ranch.
And then follows one of the strangest scenes in probably
any spaghetti western ever made - The Dinner scene
Sergio Leone - where all the ranch workers (and they are many) sits
down together with the Rogers family at a big table and are
having .... eeh, dinner. Just like a friendly sweet big family, and
they even prank him, the newly hired hand Manuel. What?
These are the bad guys, aren't they ? Manuel is the ruthless killer
who put on his gloves when he's about to kill and one almost
feel sorry for the Rogers men. But only almost, as everyone is unlikeable
in this film, cold-blooded killer Manuel, the grim widow
Maria who let's her 2 brothers in law, Eli and Tomas Caine (Michel Lemoine
and Guido Lollobrigida) rape the daughter of Rogers.
This spaghetti western is depressing and dark and filled
with unusual visual imagery and it was co-written by Robert Hussain
and Dario Argento. French actor Serge Marquand as one of the gang members
provides on of these unique faces of the genre,
like chiselled out of stone, and let's just think of other such Lee
Van Cleef, Klaus Kinsky, Woody Strode and Charles Bronson.
The film is presented in widescreen 1.66:1 ratio and
with an english or italian audio LPCM mono with english subtitles, region
A and B. Extras:
Remembering Sergio: Interview with Robert Hossein in 2015 (in french
with english subtitles)
Location Report: from French TV 1968 with i.a. Serge Marquand
Archive interview with Robert Hossein featurette, Trailer