Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released in Italy on December 23, 1972
Directed by Alfonso Balcázar
Written by Alfonso Balcázar and Giovanni Simonelli
Cast: Michael Forest, Fernando Bilbao, Malisa Longo, Paolo Gozlino, Luigi Bonos, Gaspar ‘Indio’ Gonzalez, Manuel Muñiz, Antonio Almorós, Juan Fairen
A low-grade Italian Western with a comedic slant, the first I’ve sampled from my 12-film set of chintzy spaghetti Westerns from the 1960s and 1970s, and the first of its kind that I’ve watched that didn’t have Clint Eastwood in the cast. Here, it’s American actor Michael Forest playing the title character Sacramento, who with his ox of a friend Jim and his comic-relief father set out to rob a train of what they think is government money, and after beating three other banditos to the punch, discover that the money actually belongs to local farmers facing eviction from their land.
From there, the trio spend the rest of the film trying to return the money—and keep a local banker from stealing it—amidst a cavalcade of fistfights, explosions, and good-natured hijinks. Many times throughout Sacramento I was reminded of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and because the film’s framework, style, and tone were apparently a blatant rip-off of a pair of spaghetti Westerns from that era starring Terence Hill and Bud Spencer, They Call Me Trinity and Trinity is Still My Name, there wasn’t much here that you could call original.
But somehow, even with its cheap look, its frequent descent into silliness, and its drawn-out and repetitive street brawl ending, I was still somewhat entertained by it all, a fact that can be attributed almost entirely to the two leads, who were charismatic and worked well together, and made you wish they’d made other films featuring these characters. Forest was especially good as Sacramento, an easy-going guy who had it all under control, and it was his acting and portrayal I enjoyed most, especially a great bit which offered a twist on the patented ‘tough guy orders milk at a saloon’ joke.
Of course, I didn’t recognize anyone from the cast and crew list beyond Forest, but it was interesting to find that he was still alive and making films, and in fact had parts in Cast Away, Body of Evidence, and the television series Cold Case. The director, Alfonso Balcázar, wrote and directed a number of films in Italy, and camera-wise his experience showed: again, in a film with low production value, it was nice to see several nicely-composed shots and a few smart touches, including those of a dynamite-toppled building whose twisted remains could be spotted in the background of many follow-up scenes.
I keep harping on the film’s small budget, but creative thinking has no price tag, and I wish that someone had been a little more original and inventive with the story and dialogue; if they had, this could’ve been a film ripe for a Quentin Tarantino remake. As is, it’s worth a look if you’re a fan of the genre, or get a kick out of the Trinity films and other Hill/Spencer comedy Westerns. (5/10)