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Wednesday, 9 July 2014

My Name is Nobody (1973)

Although Tony Valerie is credited as the director of this movie, it was Sergio Leone who directed many of the key scenes, and it is Leone's likeness that is stamped all over the movie. Leone was also the man behind much of the script. And considering that Leone wasn't keen on the Trinity movies he certainly borrows from them here, and not only in the lead actor, Terence Hill but several of the successful elements of the Trinity movies are borrowed (stolen for this movie). The hilarious quick draw/face slap routing first seen in They Call Me Trinity is perfected here. In fact I feel that it is helpful to think of this as a third (unofficial) Trinity movie.

Of course Leone originally intended it to be a serious film that looked at the way legends are created, and the script carries much of the same feel as Leon's earlier classic, Once Upon a Time in the West. However this film was made in 1973 and it was almost impossible to get a serious Western into production and so Leone went the comedic route that had made Terence Hill a superstar of Italian cinema.

Terence Hill plays the titular Nobody, a Trinityish drifter who hero worships Henry Fonda's character, Jack Beauregard. Jack a legendary gunslinger wants to retire and hang up his guns, but Nobody won't have that and he is determined to get Jack into the history books. The pair become reluctant partners as Nobody steers Jack towards facing off against 150 bloodthirsty gunmen, known as the Wild Bunch. Jack does so and become a living legend but then realizes that the only way to escape the life of a gunslinger is to die, and so Jack faces off against Nobody. They both know that Jack's death will ensure his place in the history books and that by killing him Nobody will become a somebody - the man who killed the fastest gun around.

This is a wonderful film - a minor masterpiece and manages to combine comedy with a serious westerns that laments the end of an era. There are some typical poetic Leone flourishes and I've always thought that the movie is underrated in Leone's canon. It certainly belongs up there alongside the Dollar movies, and Once Upon a Time in the West. Maybe the comedy elements have resulted in critics not taking the film as seriously a Leone's standard oaters. While shooting the movie Leone received word that John Ford (his idol) had died and many parts of this movie work as homage to Ford's style. A potshot was also taken at Sam Peckinpah  who had refused to direct a Leone written movie - Peckinpah's name turns up on a gravestone.

Leone virtually started the spaghetti western craze by aping classic American westerns and then when the spaghetti western's became part of mainstream cinema they were parodied by the Trinity movies and here Leone claims the western back by making a parody of the parody. Makes your head hurt just thinking about it - still this movie is a minor masterpiece and needs to be seen.

1 comment:

Oscar said...

These movies were great comedies of the west.