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Monday, 16 December 2013

Pasta Blasters: Any Gun Can Play AKA Vado... l'ammazzo e torno

Cynical and stylish, bloody and baroque - these are the pasta blasters, the spaghetti westerns. Those movies that for a period from the mid Sixties to the early Seventies revitalised the western genre.

Any Gun Can Play (1967) may not be one of the best remembered movies in the sub-genre, but it is a pretty good entry nonetheless.

 The movie opens with a truly excellent genre in-joke in which three men ride into town - these are dressed and cast to look like the iconic Euro-Western characters played by Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Franco Nero. The opening scene pays homage to the style developed from the Leone school of thought and it is not only the look of the three characters that remind us of earlier movies. However the film immediately pulls the rug out from under our feet by having the three men shot down by the real hero of the film - The Stranger played by George Hilton.

The plot involved our bounty hunter witnessing a train robbery while looking for bandit, Montero played by Gilbert Roland who manages in some shots to resemble a mid-period John Wayne. Of course the bandit was involved in the robbery and now seems a much more attractive proposition given that the bounty on his head has risen dramatically.

The film aims for laughs as much as thrills and although it is not a comedy western in the sense of the Trinity movies, it is very much a comedic oater ,though a disjointed one at that. The first quarter of the movie is quite violent and fast paced and the robbery of the train carrying the gold is excellently staged. It is only later that the film becomes uproariously funny - the fistfight between the stranger and Clayton (Edd Byrnes)  has to be seen to be believed. From this point in the film becomes ever more outlandish, the fight scenes ever more audacious. The scene in which Clayton escapes several gunmen in a small town would not look out of place in a James Bond movie.

The movie, like most others in its genre, has an effective score -  this was only the fourth film score from the great Francesco De Masi (1930-2005) and is very much influenced by the styles set out by the legendary Ennio Morricone which is no surprise since Morricone layed down the blueprint for pasta western scores with his work for Sergio Leone. There are lots of guitar strums and whistling in the score.

The current DVD release from Pegasus and its Cowboy Classic Collection is adequate but nothing more. There are no special features and although the picture, when upscaled to 180p is pretty good the audio could do with a complete remaster.

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