The Magnificent Texan (1968)

Il magnifico texano / Diez horcas para un pistolero

Glenn Saxson

Glen Saxson in all of his spray-on tan glory

The Magnificent Texan is a Spanish-Italian outing, directed by Luigi Capuano (as "Lewis King"). Capuano has also directed several Zorro films..As the film opens, we see a house burning down, with some bandits riding off. We then see a child, watching from the woods, calling out to his lost family members... then the credits roll, showing a man on horseback, wearing a poncho and a black bandana on his face, apparently shooting at things randomly, which is odd, as we never see him being chased or shot at. So begins the film.

El Desperado

We then see a trial in the town of Santa Clara, presided over by the portly Judge Wilkins, who lets a criminal, Jimmy Stark, off the hook for killing some Mexican. He does get exiled, where he's later accosted by the man with the bandana, who is known as "El Desperado", who seems to be a vigilante of sorts, as he eventually shoots Jimmy.We come to find that Judge Wilkins has some sort of secret in his past that he's hiding. His daughter, the drop-dead gorgeous Evelyn (Barbara Loy) is to be married aginst her will to her cousin(?), when she is really longing for her childhood love, Manuel.

It's not too long before we're shown that El Desperado is Manuel, and he's come back to take vengeance on Judge Wilkins and the others responsible for murdering his family. He briefly shows up in town in disguise as a fashion designer (yes, a fashion designer) in order to get closer to Judge Wilkins, but it's not too long before they figure it out. He runs away with Evelyn, and they decide to marry themselves (something I had no idea one could do). Needless to say, Judge Wilkins wants his daughter back, and so he deputizes the outlaw Blackie Stark (Massimo Serato) and his gang, and they go off on a manhunt that ends in a shootout that seems to go on forever.

Don't you hate it when couples dress to match? It doesn't look any less goofier in spaghetti westerns.

There's not really much good to say about this one; it's a rather uninspired effort, and Capuano takes a lot of the mystery out of the film by revealing El Desperado's identity pretty early in the film. It almost plays like a 1940's superhero film, somewhat contrived, and very simplistic. The Dutch-born Saxson (real name - Rael Bos) is about as unconvincing as a Mexican as one can get, and his ridiculous tan makeup doesn't help, either. He's miscast, in that he appears more like a dapper ladies' man than any sort of spaghetti hero. His hair, teeth and skin are too damn perfect, hardly that of a guy who's lived most of his life on the run as a desperado.

One thing I notice in some of the lower quality westerns is that there's a lot of shooting guns off in the air for no apparent reason. That happens A LOT in this film... in the street when the fashion models come in, in the saloon, and countless other places. You'd figure someone would get shot by accident... or at least complain. There's plenty of incredibly corny dialog, too, and for the most part, the cinematography is somewhat average, too. The score by Francesco Masi sounds like something you might have heard before, and you probably have.

That said, it wasn't a horrible film. One of the better performances was by Luis Induni, as the sheriff. His character was sympathetic to El Desperado, and the man's facial expressions conveyed that of a man who had to do his duty and uphold the law, even though he disagreed with it. This isn't Z-grade crap here, as I was able to watch the whole thing without turning it off or falling asleep, as often happens with the bad ones. It's just another one of the seemingly endless amount of spaghetti product that was churned out in 1968 (the year with the highest number of spaghettis produced). Not really worth tracking down, but not the worst, either.


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