Director: Maurizio Lucidi - Cast: Bud Spencer, Jack Palance, Dany Saval, Francesco Rabal, Roberto Camardiel, Sal Borgese, Renato Cestiè, Francesco Giacobini – Music: Louis Bacalov
In one of his first star vehicles without Hill, Spencer is teamed up with an orphan, coveted by a girl he deflowered and chased by her brother, who wants to save her name by having him marry her first (since single moms are not respected) and kill him later (since widows enjoy some esteem in society). There's also a stubborn horse, an oil prospector who eats dirt and priest turned sheriff (or was it the other way around?) who cannot be trusted.
Coburn Thompson (Spencer) is nearly hanged as a horse thief. His life is saved by a lawyer because the hanging is illegal, but good old Bud isn't very happy, since this means he has to keep running from the fastest gun in the West, played by no other than Jack Palance. We can understand him: it must be an ordeal to be persecuted by a sharp shooting Jack Palance, and don't forget that deep down inside this Coburn Thompson is a decent guy: he only deflowered the girl because he thought she was a hooker. Made when Spencer already was a star, but not famous enough to lure people to cinemas with his name only, the film is a bit more plot-driven than most of his later vehicles, when the only thing he was asked to do, was beating people around. The script, written by Rafael Ascona, was based on a original story by Ernesto Gastaldi, one of the better known screenwriters within the genre. The story was specially written to soften Spencer's screen persona: instead of the grumpy fatso he impersonated in the Trinity movies, this film introduces us to his more mellow side: the orphan has to defend the big man as often as the big man the orphan. When Palance is about to kill the man who deflowered his sister, the orphan tells him that the girl is pregnant, so Palance decides to postpone the killing until the child will have reached adult age.
Although not particularly distinguished, this film is good fun. It's rather slow-moving and the first twenty minutes are tedious, but it's a sympathetic family movie with a few raunchy jokes as well. Spencer is quite good as the good-natured rogue, who likes to be alone and talk to his horse. As more often in a spaghetti western, Palance really hams it up as the gunslinger who is accompanied by his sister and a group of ballroom dancers. It's not his finest hour, but it must be said that he is let down by the script writers: though he's presented as the fastest gun out West, he only once gets the chance to show his abilities; for most part of the movie, he is left to chewing cigars. Familiar genre faces like Francisco Rabal and Sal Borgese do their job perfectly well. And oh yes, the orphan isn't too irritating …
What makes it particularly worthwhile for genre fans, is the facts that it was partly filmed on locations used for Once upon a Time in the West. It's nice to hear one of the charters say 'So this is the famous well', when they arrive at the well where Harmonica shot two of Frank's men. The script even uses some story elements of Leone's masterpiece. The orphan has inherited a seemingly useless piece of land, but some are willing to pay a considerable amount of money for it, so the kid decides to bide his time. Louis Bacalov's score often seems reminiscent of Morricone's famous score too, but this adds to the fun. The title song, sung by Rocky Roberts, is very infectious: possibly you won't get it out of your head.
You'll all have an excellent opportunity the watch the film: it's in public domain and can be watched on Classic Cinema Online. When I checked it this morning, the link didn't work, but you can download it on several public domain torrents as well.