Un Dollaro tra i denti)
Today, it's a look at "A Stranger in Town", directed by Luigi Vanzi (as Vance Lewis), and released in 1966. This one stars Tony Anthony as, of course, a stranger who rolls into the town of Cerro Gordo, right after a group of Mexican bandits, led by Anguilla, played by Frank Wolff, a genre regular you may have seen in The Great Silence and Once Upon a Time in the West. Anyways, the bandits have secretly killed the Mexican army officers who were waiting for a shipment of gold from the U.S. Cavalry, and have stolen their uniforms. The Stranger, who knows some of the cavalry, offers to help the bandits get the gold in return for getting a cut of it. The bandits, being bandits and all and none too trustworthy, screw the stranger out of his share, and the rest of the movie is basically them going back and forth fighting with each other. And that's what I didn't really like about this film… there wasn’t much of a compelling storyline or plot. Not much to chew on.
The movie was released by MGM, did quite well and doesn’t have that Z-grade feel that many in the genre tend to have, and I've read that this was an attempt to make a "Fistful of Dollars"-type film (there are a few similarities) that was more palatable to U.S. audiences. It's kind of funny how some of the spags that had Hollywood studio support can sometimes have the same blandness as some of the run-of-the-mill Italian ones do. I guess it's all the same, except for the bigger budget.
The acting and sets are okay, it's just not a very exciting story. Tony Anthony has none of the badass factor that Eastwood or Van Cleef would have. He gets the crap kicked out of him and limps around quite a bit. He just looks too much like he'd be more at home in some sort of Mafia picture than a Western, which is funny, considering he's really from West Virginia. There’s even a slight New York accent or something that drives that perception home even moreso. Frank Wolff is okay as the leader of the bandidos, and doesn’t go over the top as many of them typically do. It was good to see Wolff as a baddie, different from some of the other roles we've known him for. The soundtrack by Bennedeto Ghiglia is a typical one with lots of twangy electric guitar, pleasant but not very original.
This film was okay, but nothing really memorable, and surprisingly, it was followed by two sequels. It wasn’t horrible by any means (especially production-wise), it just didn't have much in the way of style or substance. Not on my "must-see" list, but not on my “must avoid” list, either.
Here's the U.S. trailer for the film. Notice the crazy Mitch Ryder-style rawk music (which is not in the movie):