Tutti per uno... botte per tutti
Bruno Corbucci, brother of the famous Sergio, has had a hand in writing some of the best-loved films of the genre, such as Django and The Great Silence. However, as a director of the genre, he's gone the comedic route. His 1973 film, The Three Musketeers of the West was loosely (the key word here is "loosely") based on Alexander Dumas' classic, The Three Musketeers (with the main characters having similar names: Dart, Mac Athos, Aramirez, and Portland). The plot revolves around a crooked banker (genre regular Eduardo Fajardo, taking a rare comedic turn) and his plan to smuggle an illegal gold shipment to a Mexican dictator named Ortega. He plans on using a doctor (Karin Schubert, who later went on to star in hardcore films) to get it there in a a medical wagon. . A guy named Dart, Jr. (Timothy Brent), who is leaving his strange town of Cheese Valley, gets wind of the plan, and enlists 3 retired Texas Rangers (played by George Eastman, Leo Anchoriz, and Chris Huerta) to help him foil the plan, which doesn't go his way, as they want to steal the gold for themselves. The film is basically a series of over-the-top fights and chases as they work their way to Mexico, as our protagonists finally outwit the banker, and briefly get a hold of the gold.
Not being a fan of the comedy western personally, I wasn't quite sure how to approach this, as I'm already coming into it with a rather jaundiced view. This is basically a spaghetti with the slapstick turned up to "10" on the dial. Nonstop head-bonking, brawling, crotch kicking, squirting food, and generally infantile, idiotic behavior are prevalent throughout the film from beginning to end, to the point where one wondered if Corbucci and writer Tito Carpi just decided to put every bad slapstick cliché in here and try to create a semblance of a story around it. There's a bunch of very long brawl sequences (even a cheese fight and clown fights!!!), that start to get tiresome almost as soon as they begin. With almost no exceptions, the acting is one-dimensional, and in the case of lead Timothy Brent, pretty horrendous. I didn't really find myself caring one whit about what happened to any of the characters, and I probably would have been pleasantly surprised had they all met some sort of gruesome, violent death - they were that annoying. It makes They Call Me Trinity look like Citizen Kane in terms of its sheer ineptitude on so many levels.
On an interesting note, even though this was a Spanish/Italian co-production and was obviously filmed in Almeria, the set used for the towns look quite unfamiliar to me, not the usual Tabernas stuff we're accustomed to, which made it somewhat interesting. Also, as noted in the beginning of the film, some of this was filmed in Taipei, Taiwan. I'm guessing it's the scene in the Chinese community with the big kung-fu brawl, although one has to wonder if it would have been cheaper to just build another set instead of going all the way to Taipei to film it. As another interesting note, this is one of the few spaghettis with a (brief) glimpse of full frontal nudity, as Schubert's character gets out of the bathtub.
Dorado Films is a small, American company that has released and restored several rare films from different genres, including the spags Now They Call Me Sacramento and The Man From Oklahoma. What I really like about Dorado is that they are very open in communicating with fans, and even enlisting them to help find rare source material such as audio tracks and such, which you can see from looking at their blog. One gets the sense that they are really excited about what they are doing, and it shows in both their words and what they do.
They did a great job on this not-so-great film. The sound is clear, with a bit of low-level hiss in the background (as to be expected). The print is generally clean, with an occasional scratch or blemish, with no apparent missing frames. It isn't crystal-clear, but once again, given the source material they were using, they did a fine job of restoring it. It's presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, with English, Spanish, and Italian stereo audio. It also contains trailers for three other spaghettis, as well as an alternate bath scene (in Spanish), where instead of getting out of the tub nude, Karin Schubert is wearing a corset! It is packaged nicely, with the inside artwork being the Spanish and Italian posters. There's also two inserts, one touting two of Dorado's upcoming releases, and one with liner notes about the film by Lee Broughton of Westerns All'Italiana. All in all, it's a nice presentation.
It's not a good film, and if you don't like spaghetti comedies, you're really not going to like this at all. It's not a stretch to say that of the hundred or so spaghettis I've seen so far as of this writing, this is undoubtedly in the bottom five, perhaps even the bottom two. It's so over the top with the slapstick and bad acting that you might not like it even if you do like comedies. That said, Dorado Films should be commended for bringing any spaghetti back from the grave, even the bad ones, and they did an excellent job on this release. I am looking forward to their upcoming release of Gatling Gun, as I'm sure it will be a great restoration, as well. If Dorado can perhaps avoid the bad comedies and focus on more serious fare, they are undoubtedly going to be a force to be reckoned with as far as spaghetti restorations go.