Ehi amico… c\’è Sabata. Hai chiuso\! Film Details
Overview: A master gunfighter teams up with a banjo-playing drifter and a Mexican tramp to foil the town leaders of Daugherty, Texas, who want to steal $100,000 from their own bank to buy land that the approaching railroad will cross.
Tagline: The man with gunsight eyes comes to kill!
Review: If you have a ravenous appetite for Spaghetti westerns lensed in rugged Spain with exhilarating music like composer Marcello Giombini’s score and Carlo Simi’s evocative sets (he collaborated with Sergio Leone), “Sabata” is a surefire sagebrusher. Writer & director Gianfranco Parolini made two “Sabata” movies with Lee Van Cleef, including “Return of Sabata,” but “Sabata” surpasses its gimmicky sequel. Unfortunately, another Parolini western,”Indio Black,” starring Yul Brynner, was retitled “Adios Sabata.” The Yul Brynner character, however, had nothing to do with the Lee Van Cleef hero. Furthermore, “Indio Black” came out between the two “Sabata” movies, so it isn’t surprising the producers altered the title. Remember, virtually all Terence Hill’s movies after the triumph of “They Call Me Trinity” were retitled “Trinity,” even though the Trinity character had no part in them. Similarly, after the success of Sergio Corbucci’s “Django,” many Franco Nero westerns were retitled “Django.” Gianfranco Parolini’s “Sabata” pits the eponymous gambler against a murderous rancher, Stengel (Franco Ressel of “The Mercenary”), abetted by an army of gunmen, who connives to eradicate all traces of an elaborate bank robbery that he has orchestrated. Two prominent businessmen and he sought to steal $100-thousand from the U.S. Army. These thieves planned to purchase land with their ill-gotten gains which the railroad would eventually have to pay dearly for to cross on its westward route. Like Sergio Leone, who forged the Spaghetti western as we know it, Parolini emerged from the same cultural heritage. Parolini helmed three major peplums, “Samson,” “The Fury of Hercules,” and “The Ten Gladiators,” while Leone received credit for directing only one peplum. Conversely, Leone beat Parolini to the draw with westerns. Parolini’s first oater was 1965’s “Johnny West,” while Leone helmed “Fistful of Dollars” in 1964. Sergio Leone discovered bit part heavy Lee Van Cleef and turned him into viable supporting star in “For A Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Parolini went a step farther and gave the former accountant his first recurring major character role with “Sabata.” Van Cleef would encore his role in “Return of Sabata,” the only instance of Van Cleef playing the same character twice. Between “For A Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” Lee Van Cleef became a star in “The Big Gundown.” Sergio Sollima’s “The Big Gundown” was released about a month before Leone’s magnum opus “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Meantime, Parolini lived in the shadow of Leone’s success and exploited it. Essentially, Parolini appropriated Leone’s masterpiece “Once Upon A Time in the West” with its sprawling story about the westward expansion of the railroad and converted Lee Van Cleef’s sartorially elegant character Colonel Douglas Mortimer into the derringer wielding Sabata who carries around a Winchester with an extension barrel so he can make long range shots. Remember, Colonel Mortimer carried components in his saddle roll to modify his weapons when he needed greater range. Sabata doesn’t have Colonel Mortimer’s tragic past either. Instead, Sabata is a gambler who happens to be a superb marksman. “Sabata” qualifies as one of Van Cleef’s half-dozen top tier Spaghetti westerns. A classic action packed sagebrusher with melodramatic twists and turns needs a violent, larger-than-life villain to challenge the hero. The villainous Stengel, played by Franco Ressel, is especially clever, conceited, and nefarious. He is a supreme egotist and has no qualms when it comes to getting what he wants. In typical Spaghetti western tradition, Sabata doesn’t play fair against the unscrupulous Stengel. Once he deduces that Stengel engineered the ill-fated hold-up, he closes in on Stengel and his two associates, Judge O’Hara ( ) and Ferguson and tries to extort money from them for his silence. Neither Gene Autry nor Wild Bill Elliot would stoop to such nasty tactics. “Sabata” opens with a cool set-piece. The U.S. Army has just locked $100-thousand dollars in the bank at Daugherty City for safe keeping and has posted sentries around it. Nevertheless, Stengel’s chief henchman Oswald (Robert Hundar of “Goliath and the Dragon”) and his accomplishes kill the Army guards with knives while lightning crackles overhead in the night skies. They remove the bank vault from the wall and slide it out on rails into a buckboard and light out for the border. A dying Army guard stumbles into the saloon to warn the civilians about the robbery. Sabata, who arrived in Daugherty before the robbery took place, has just stopped a crooked game of craps, and demonstrated his adroit ability to sling dollar coins into a player piano. Sabata takes a short-cut and beats the outlaws to the border. He commands them to turn back. They refuse to because they believe mistakenly that high up and far away on a cliff where our hero stands that he cannot possibly hit them with his Winchester. Sabata has attached an extension to the barrel and kills all seven of them. Sabata returns to Daugherty City with the safe, the defunct outlaws, and the Army pays him a $5-thousand dollar reward. By this time, Sabata has made friends with a drunkard, Carrincha (Pedro Sanchez of “Adios, Sabata”), and his buddy, Alley Cat (Nick Jordan of “Five For Hell”), who performs acrobatic feats. A mysterious stranger, Banjo (William Berger), who is passing through Daugherty City, teams up with Sabata. Banjo conceals a modified Winchester carbine in his banjo and is a crack shot himself. The final confrontation between Stengel and Sabata at his ranch is classic, and Sabata’s coin slinging capability pays off. Parolini keeps the action moving at a snappy clip, stages several exciting gunfights, springs some surprises along the trail. Stengel utters a memorable line before he dies: “Life is only worthwhile when you can face death without showing any fear.” “Sabata” ranks as one of Lee Van Cleef’s better non-Sergio Leone westerns, but it doesn’t surpass “Death Rides A Horse.”
Language: English, Italian
Duration: 111 min
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