A Man Called Apocalypse Joe (1971)

Un Uomo chiamato Apocalisse Joe / A Man Called Joe Clifford

Poster for Apocalypse Joe

So, a few nights ago, I watched A Man Called Apocalypse Joe, directed by Leopoldo Savona and released in 1971. It starts off rather promising, with Steffen’s character, Joe Clifford, doing a bit of Shakespearean street theater (Hamlet), where he takes advantage of the distraction to shoot five guys through with his gun hidden in that skull that Hamlet carries around in that “to be or not to be” speech. And it sort of goes downhill from there.

Anthony Steffen as Apocalypse Joe

Anthony Steffen ponders the wisdom of accepting every spaghetti western script that crosses his desk. Time for a new agent…

The story is actually a bit different for the genre. Steffen finds out that he’s inherited a gold mine, but when he goes to find out about it, he finds that the town baddie, named Berg (horribly acted by Eduardo Fatardo, the bad guy in the original Django), has supposedly won the mine from his uncle in a drunken bet. He also learns that his uncle didn’t fall off a cliff in a drunken stupor… Berg’s men killed him. And so the rest of the pic is Steffen basically wiping out Berg’s gang, one by one.

Steffen’s character, Joe Clifford, is really an aspiring Shakespearean actor, as we find out early on. This angle gives him the opportunity to don a few disguises as he wipes out Berg’s gang. What could have been an effective device though, oftem more than not comes across as cheesy, such as when Clifford, dressed like a young lady, does the old “stick of dynamite in a baby carriage” trick, which looks like it was lifted out of an old Warner Bros. cartoon. And then there’s this…

Steffen as viking

Steffen rivals Lee Van Cleef in his broad range of acting abilities. Well, maybe not. Vikings do not belong in spaghetti westerns.

Now, aside from that, the acting and script are pretty horrendous, and the lousy choice of English overdubs doesn’t help. The dialogue is truly awful. At one time, the pussywhipped sheriff boldly pronounces,”I know I haven’t been a good sheriff, but I’m going to try a lot harder this time.” Yeah, he really says that.

The scenery is ok, typical, if not stunning. The score from Bruno Nicolai is good, especially the main motif, but you almost get the impression that you’ve heard it in other spag westerns. So, although it’s not in the “avoid at all costs” category, this film’s not really worth wasting your time with.

It's a spaghetti western that offers nothing new to the genre, and is somewhat of an excercise in mediocrity.

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