Last of the Badmen (1967)

Time of Vultures / Il tempo degli avvoltoi

poster for Last of the Badmen

It's been a while since I've watched a spaghetti, with all the distractions of life and non-spaghetti movies to watch. The other night I dipped into my seemingly bottomless well of spaghettis to watch Fernando Cicero's Last of the Badmen, starring genre regulars George Hilton, Frank Wolff, and Eduardo Fajardo.

George Hilton as Kitosch

As the film starts out we meet cowhand Kitosch (Hilton), who is working on the ranch of Don Jaime Morelos (Fajardo). He seems to get in trouble quite a bit, mostly because he can't seem to keep his hands off of the ladies of the ranch, including Don Jaime's wife. After a good beating at the hands of Don Jaime's men, he escapes the ranch. Escaping to a nearby town, he's soon thrown in jail, when a mysterious "man in black"arrives, who kills the sheriff and deputy when they try to apprehend him. We learn that he's the notorious and wanted Black Tracy (Wolff). He sets Kitosch free, and they set out together, where Kitosch helps Tracy to the border, bu not before Tracy settles an old score with a man named Big John and his old girlfriend, who apparently double-crossed him. Kitosch seems stunned at how coldly he dispenses of them. Along the way, they acquire some gold, as well.

As they're pursued through the desert by Don Jaime and his men, Tracy breaks out his trusty rifle/grenade launcher:

Frank Wollf as Black Tracy

They manage to make it back to Don Jaime's, where Tracy kidnaps the Don's wife, holding her for ransom. As this is happening, he kills Kitosch's bride-to-be (oddly, Kitosch seems unfazed by this). After some tense moments and double-crosses in the desert, the film climaxes in a standoff in a chapel between Don Jaime, Tracy, and Kitosch. Only two of them walk away alive...

I'd read a fair amount of positive reviews of this one over at its spot at the SWDB forum, and I like Hilton and Wolff, so I had rather high expectations for this film. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to them. I thought Wolff was miscast... his paunchy, middle-aged appearance didn't project the way it was intended; there was little emotion in his performance. Perhaps that was the point, but to me, it made his character seem very one-dimensional. The fact that Kitosch, who, by all accounts seems like a pretty decent guy, continues to hang with Tracy (even after Tracy kills his fiancée) after witnessing his barbarism is somewhat odd.

The "epilepsy" thing was somewhat awkward, due to several factors. The first time we see it, it's when Kitosch is in a room talking to Tracy's ex-girlfriend. All of a sudden, we see him fall to the ground as though he's having a heart attack. Then in the next scene, when Kitosch returns, he's normal, as though nothing happened. I had seriously wondered if I'd seen a bad editing mistake or something, and he didn't exactly have a seizure, it seemed more like severe indigestion. Usually when someone's having a seizure, they're flailing around quite a bit, and they're certainly not okay one minute later.

Hilton and Fajardo put in good performances, there's some nice cinematography by Fausto Rossi, and a fairly typical score by Piero Umiliani. If you like Wolff or Hilton, I'd say check it out. It's not terrible, but nothing memorable, either. I saw a good fan-dub of it, with a good clear picture and English audio.

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