A Pistol for Ringo (1965)

Una Pistola per Ringo

A Pistol for Ringo

Every now and then I see a spaghetti western that, although has nothing particularly outstanding in terms of innovation, acting, music, or cinematography, still manages to entertain me quite well. Duccio Tessari's A Pistol For Ringo is one of those films.

It's an early film, being from 1965, and stars genre regulars Giuliano Gemma (billed as the very American-sounding "Montgomery Wood") and Fernando Sancho. It's also one of those ones that, in that inimitable Italian film industry way, spawned many knockoffs with "Ringo" in the title, similar to the Sartana and Django films.There was one "official" sequel, Return of Ringo, that also starred Gemma and Sancho (and also directed by Tessari) that came out the following year.

Giuliano Gemma as Ringo

Giuliano Gemma as Ringo

The plot involves a group of banditos who rob a bank, and then hole up in a nearby hacienda, holding its inhabitants hostage, as well as killing several of them until the law meets their demands. The sheriff of the town, played by George Martin (from Clint the Stranger) has a personal stake in the hostages' well-being, as his fiancee is one of them. He eventually frees Ringo, who was in jail for a self-defense killing, to go and free the hostages, getting a cut of the stolen loot, as well. Ringo infiltrates the bandits, and proceeds to do a double-and then triple cross, in a 'double agent' sort of way, although it turns out he is indeed on the side of the law. In the end, he successfully helps the lawmen raid the hacienda, kill the bandits, and then rides off into the sunset.

George Martin

George Martin as the clean-cut sheriff

So what worked? It was well-paced, the acting wasn't over the top as it can often be in these films, the English overdub was well-recorded and ably acted, and there was a good Morricone score. Gemma's got some good screen prescence as always, and it works well in this one. He's got that boyish innocence, but he's deadly as hell. Fernanado Sancho does his fat, greasy bandito thing (interestingly enough, his character is named "Sancho"). We've seen him do this in countless films, and he was undoubtedly typecast, but he shows a bit more range in theis particular one, instead of 'bandito-by-the-numbers'.

I think that the hacienda set they used in this film is the same as the one in Sollima's Run, Man, Run. It has a similar looking windmill, as well.

Fernando Sancho looks  like Ringo Starr

You'd think that "Ringo" referred to Fernando Sancho's hair, which looks like he could have stolen it from Beatle Ringo Starr. He doesn't look too happy about his haircut.

A lot of the earlier spags seem to me to have a very American feel to them, as did this one. I can't quite pinpoit what exactly that is, perhaps it's the presence of a few people that seem like the old-fashioned squeaky clean cowboys, and the presence of really 'proper and polite' dialogue. George Martin always gives off that vibe. But then every now and then, you'll see something in this film, like a guy getting shot point blank in the forehead, that reminds you once again that you're watching a European film. There's actually quite a bit of violence in this film, some of it directed towards innocent people that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not Django Kill! over-ther-top kind of violence, but a lot of people get killed.

Not a lot of cheesy B-movie silliness in this one, but something worth mentioning... Every time I see a child in a spagehett western, why is it that the voice overdub is always so obviously an adult acting like a kid? Clint the Stranger was notorious for that one, and it's only in this one here for a timy but, but jeez, it always sounds bad. Really bad, and fake.Were there no able child actors available to do voiceover work?

But I'm not complaining. A Pistol for Ringo doesn't try to make some sweeping artistic statement or anything, it's just a good, solid, entertaining film. Recommended.

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