Uno dopo l'altro
( Dir: Nick Nostro - Cast: Richard Harrison, José Bodalo, Pamela Tudor, José Manuel Martin, Paolo Gozlino, Jolanda Modio, José Canelejas)
When One after the Other was made, spaghetti western writers started to run out of ideas, so they just threw in everything they could think of. Released in the same year as Parolini's (more famous, and far more influential) If you meet Sartana … Pray for your Death, it almost seems a companion piece to that movie. It even has a Sartana like labyrinth plot, with a multitude of twists and double-crosses, and a hero whose identity is more than a bit enigmatic until the very last moment.
In a confusing opening scene, we watch how bank president Jefferson (Bodalo) is brought to the lair of Mexican bandit Espartero (Jose Manuel Martin), and is blackmailed (with documents that identify him as a traitor) to rob his own bank. So he does, but not with Espartero's men, but with his own men, dressed like Mexicans (the first, but most certainly not the last extraordinary plot twist). A bank employee is killed in the process, and when a bounty hunter called Stan pops up in town (who could be the deceased friend or brother) Jefferson tries to convince him the Mexicans were the culprits, so this professional will track them down and erase all the traces in the process. Of course Stan soon finds out things are not what they seem...
Stan is a gunman Leone style, manipulating - and being manipulated by - two warring factions, but he also reminds us of that other Sergio, Corbucci, as he's a handicapped - myopic! - hero fighting against heavy odds. Every characters seems to have a hidden agenda and the Mexicans are as cunning and arrant as the Americans, the women as vindictive as the men. As a result there's hardly a dull moment, but I felt a little quaint about the shifts in tone. It starts and ends like a Sartana or Sabata movie (well, a tiny bit more serious) but in-between there's a rather shocking (especially in this context) sequence with a massacred Mexican village, and the film's third and final act, Harrison's protracted vengeance, with Stan eliminating Jefferson's men one after the other, feels a bit like a horror movie.
In a contemporary interview the director declared he intended to infuse his film with a touch of the bizarre as well as a dose of humor and self-parody. He sure did. The moment in which Harrison unfolds his large collection of glasses in true Colonel Mortimer style is a highlight. This exemplary scene from For a Few Dollars More was imitated numerous times, but as far as I know, no one ever had the idea to do it with an article as far out - in this context - as glasses. The final scene, in which Harrison is outsmarted by his female accomplice, is also very nice. It's always good to see one of these unvulnarable spaghetti western heroes being reduced to human proportions - especially by a woman. But, as said, the film often works a bit confusing, as if Nostro and his screenwriters weren't completely focused on what they were doing.
Harrison turns in a remarkably good, laconic performance as the spectacled gunman. Bodalo is also quite good as Jefferson, the racist bank president, who doesn't shy away from mass murder. Ironically both actors are almost unrecognizable: the glasses change Harrison's bovine looks completely, and I only realized after some thirty minutes that Bodalo was the actor who played a Mexican bandits in Corbucci's Django and Compañeros. Overall this is a satisfying spaghetti western. I have a bit of a problem with the lack of focus, but that's probably only me. Phil H is more positive on this movie in his excellent review of this movie for SWDB, and there's no denying that, in spite of the abovementioned inconsistencies, One after the Other is an above-average achievement, a very enjoyable genre entry. To say you could do a lot worse within the genre, is quite an understatement.