The Man from Nowhere / Il pistolero di Arizona
Phil over at Son of Django (in my opinion, undoubtedly one of the best spaghetti western reviewers out there) recently proclaimed something that I'm sure is common to most of us who write film reviews in general: sometimes the hardest reviews to write are for those films that are neither exceptional or awful. It's what I'm thinking write now as I write this review for Michele Lupo's Arizona Colt, also commonly called The Man from Nowhere (which is sort of a misnomer, becuse he says in the film that he's from Arizona).
The film stars Giulano Gemma as bounty hunter Arizona Colt. As the film starts off, he's in a jail and a group of banditos led by (who else?) Fernando Sancho's character named Torrez "Gordo" Watch breaks all of the prisoners out of the jail. Most of the prisoners leave with the bandits, but Arizona stays behind, where he's befriended by an old drunk that hangs with the gang, named Whiskey (Roberto Camardiel). They ride together to see Gordo.
Gordo was busy terrorizing the other released prisoners into joining his gang. Arizona refuses, and says he has to think about it. In the meantime, Gordo's gang is planning a bank robbery in a nearby town. He sends one of his men ahead to check it out, and lo and behold, who's on the stagecoach with him but Arizona. The bandito sets his sights on the saloon owner's daughter, who he sleeps with, but then kills after she sees the brand on his arm that identifies him as one of Gordo's men. He slips out of town the next day, shortly before her body is discovered. The town is devastated, as well as defenseless, because most of the town's men are gone for a while to deliver some cattle. Arizona makes a deal to get the killer for $500, as well as the hand of the saloon owner's other daughter.
Gordo's men return to the town, and rob the bank. After they've retreated to safety, they also kill the returning men from the town, as Whiskey looks on, quite saddened. Arizona later shows up to collect the girl's killer, whom he defeats in a fight, but he's then shot down by Gordo and left for dead. Whiskey comes back that night, tends to his wounds, and brings him back to town. Gordo's men get wind of this and return to the town again, indiscriminately killing a lot of townspeople. Arizona, who's been recovering, returns, and saves the day. He then rides off with the money but without the girl.
Not much to say about this one. As always, Gemma and Sancho are great at what they do. Francesco De Masi wrote a nice score for this one, with recurring variations on a theme appearing throughout the movie. And the Whiskey character, clearly the "comedy sidekck", is never overplayed or even annoying, as is often the case with those kinds of characters.
One thing I've noticed is that as a good majority of these films are filmed in the vast and beautiful Almerian desert landscape, not every cameraman and director utilizes the landscape to its greatest extent. Cameraman Guglielmo Mancori did a fine job of that in his film, in that he lays out some truly striking shots, such as this one where the bandits sneak up on Arizona. The camera follows them up from a gorge, gradually pulling back and revealing the mountains in the background:
Not much in the way of flaws, although I was a bit perplexed by the shot of a whooping crane or heron or something circling Arizona as he lies injured... could they not find a vulture? Are things really that different in Almeria?
Yeah, silly, but nothing movie-killing. This was the Wild East version. It sounded good, and it looked okay, but I suspect that the original source that they used for restoration was in pretty rough shape. Every now and then it was a bit grainy, you can see some serious scratches on the film at times, and there was even a few missing frames, but they really did the best they could with the material, as always. As to a final verdict, I'd say it's a well-made, if somewhat typical genre piece, but worth a watch, especially if you like Gemma. It's just nothing you probably haven't seen before.
Sergio Martino directed an inferior sequel four years later, Arizona Colt Returns, with Anthony Steffen taking over the role. A review for that is here.