Lo chiamavano Mezzogiorno
(Director: Peter Collinson, Cast: Richard Crenna, Stephen Boyd, Farley Granger, Rosanna Schiaffino, Patty Shepard, Aldo Sambrell, Renato Rossini, Angel Del Pozo, Ricardo Palacios, Music: Luis Bacalov)
A man loses his memory after a failed attempt to kill him. With the help of a wandering outlaw, he starts reconstructing the events that led to the assault on his life. It turns out that he has exceptional skills with a gun, and when he finds out that many people are afraid of him, he comes to think that he is the mysterious gunman called Noon, a ruthless man and a hired killer. But Fan, a woman who has invited him on her ranch – to recover from his physical and psychological wounds - and who has fallen in love with him, thinks this can't be true...
A Man called Noon was shot in Spain, on familiar spaghetti western locations (even the McBain farm from Once upon a Time in the West can be spotted in one scene), and has a couple of familiar spaghetti western faces in its cast. Still, if you're looking for a western in the Leone tradition, you'll be disappointed. The script was based on a novel by American author Louis l'Amour while the director, Peter Collinson, was a Brit with no previous experience with the western genre. The first thirty minutes are strong, creating a sinister image of a confused and frightened man who is confronted with a violent past he doesn't remember, but it somehow loses focus on the way, and never really recovers. The fiery finale is okay, but no more than that.
It's quite an odd-looking movie. Director Collinson and his cinematographer José Cabrera almost constantly put wagon wheels, rocks, tree-stumps or flapping doors between the actors and the camera. At first this looks great, but the after a while it starts getting on your nerves. There are also a lot of low angles and otherwise bizarre compositions, all in order to give the movie an artistic look. Furthermore I think this rather convoluted crime story with an amnesiac hero, his ambiguous buddy, a hidden treasure, a secret underground house and a conflict between two cowgirls doesn't really pay off in a western context. The story is so confusing that you'll probably have to view the movie twice to piece all things together.
A man called Noon is not a bad film per se. I have always liked Crenna and Boyd, and both turn in good performances here. Boyd in particular seems to enjoy himself as the sneaky outlaw and fortune seeker, who could, and then again could not be a friend of Crenna. Schiaffano is a beauty of the curvy kind, a sort of Sofia Loren, and Patty Shepard is worth watching too as the black-clad female gunslinger. Overall the action scenes aren't bad, but there are a few very corny special effects. One involving a rock is hilarious. Don't miss it.
The most remarkable thing about this story about this amnesiac gunslinger, is that it seems to have a lot in common with Robert Ludlum's first Bourne novel, The Bourne Identity. The premise about the amnesiac man who comes to think he's a ruthless murderer, is remarkably identical. L'Amour's novel was published in 1970, Ludlum's Bourne novel a decade later, in 1980. Did Ludlum read the novel by L'Amour or did he watch this movie? I have never heard about Ludlum having legal problems with either L'Amour's or Collinson, and it must be admitted that memory loss is a popular story device. Just think of Madonna who was desperately seeking Susan.