Blindman (1971)

Il Cieco

Ferdinando Baldi's Blindman has a rather unique premise (and not just for a spaghetti). Tony Anthony is the Blindman, a guy who's managed to miraculously stay alive in the vicious old west, due to a keen skill as a rifleman, and a rather helpful horse. He's on his way to delivering 50 brides to a group of miners, but his partner, Skunk, double-crosses him and sells them to the Mexican bandito Domingo (Lloyd Battista), who takes them to Mexico, with the hopes of selling them to the Mexican army, who he later double crosses. Blindman goes to Mexico to get his women, where he also manages to kidnap Domingo's rather dimwitted brother, Candy, played by Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. Domingo eventually gets Candy back (who is later killed by Blindman) by tricking him and giving him 50 gagged old women. The battle continues, Blindman eventually wipes them all out, and gets his women back, but only shortly, as he's swindled by a Mexican general he befriended (Raf Baldassare).

Tony Anthony is the Blindman

Tony Anthony is the Blindman

I found this film somewhat entertaing, but I had some reservations about several things, which I'll get to in a bit. Tony Anthony (who I didn't really care for in his Stranger in Town) is just really likable in this film. Deadly as he is, he still comes across as a nice guy, and his performance is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but not to the extent to where it's detrimental to the film.

With the exception of Ringo Starr's acting, overall the cast is pretty good. Baldassare's Mexican dirtbag general is somewhat funny at times, and Battista plays a convincing baddie. There's good cinematography with some nice Almeria shots thanks to Riccardo Pallottini's able camera work, and the pacing of the film is steady and constant. It isn't plagued by the low-budgetness that one often sees in the genre. Although there was nothing stylistically American about it, it did at times have the look of a Hollywood film, but in a good way. Surprisingly, I found yet another cameraman shadow blooper though, in some scene where the camera is panning over the action in aerial shot as Anthony is riding away in the end. It's a bit hard to make out in the screen cap, but I watched it a few times... it's definitely a cameraman:

There's also quite a few naked beautiful women seen in this film. Nudity in spaghettis isn't too common, but there was probably enough in here for several films. I'm not complaining, mind you.

Now, for those reservations I had about the film - first off, the implausibility factor. As unique a premise that the blind gunfighter is, it's highly improbable. Sure, he may have some keen non-visual senses, but what's stopped a sniper from picking him off from afar? The old west is hard enough to survive in when one is not impaired, it was a bit of stretch to think that Anthony's character could have lasted as long as he did.

The second issue - the Ringo factor. This film (as the other Anthony "Stranger" films) was financed by Allen Klein, the former Beatles manager, and this was a vehicle for Ringo Starr to kick off an acting career. Aside from the fact that he seems miscast as a bandito, I found the very fact that it was Ringo Starr a distraction. Whenever he was onscreen, the fact that it was the Beatles' drummer in a spaghetti western was always at the forefront of my mind (followed by a "why the hell is Ringo in a spaghetti western?") His acting wasn't exactly stellar, either.

Ringo Starr... and boobs

Ringo Starr... and boobs - two things you tend not to see in the genre.

Now, as Phil at Son of Django pointed out in his excellent review of this film, the genre tends to be a bit on the misogynistic side, as a whole. There's the whole macho west thing, as well as the macho Italian thing at play. But Blindman really pushes the envelope in that regard, to disturbing effect. The women are always nothing more than property. There was one scene in particular, though, that even I found somewhat offensive, and believe me, I don't offend easy. As the women escape the Domingo gang, they are eventually overtaken in the desert by the gang. As they run for the protection of an old, abandoned structure, the bandits just start shooting them like rabbits, as well as chasing them down, beating, and raping them. It was just so brutal, as well as unnecessary, that it changed my mood somewhat for the rest of the film. And to make matters worse, the scene goes on for a lot longer than it should, too.

All in all, it was a somewhat flawed but entertaining film, although it certainly wouldn't appear in my top 20, as it seems to with a lot of people. Perhaps it's special to a lot of fans because of the unique premise, but that alone doesn't put it in the rankings of the best of the best for me.

The trailer:

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