La Lunga cavalcata / La Parola di un fuorilegge... e legge!)
Well, this is interesting. Whod'a thought there'd be a film that could be both a spaghetti western AND a blaxploitation flick? An Italian production directed by Antonio Marghereti, 1975's Take A Hard Ride, actually fits the bill. It stars Spag Western legend Lee Van Cleef, as well as three of the biggest blaxploitation stars: Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, and Jim Kelly, who also starred in the hilarious (but not a comedy) Three The Hard Way.
The three of them yet again 'join forces' to deliver an $86,000 bankroll that is also desired by a bunch of other people, most notably a bounty hunter named Keifer (Van Cleef). That's the plot in a nutshell. And, for the most part, breathtaking scenery aside, this film was pretty lame. Lots to poke fun at, however, so here it goes.
The acting was horrible. Brown, Williamson, and Kelly were never known as acting heavyweights, and it's quite apparent here. Williamson does his typical pimp/hustler talk, smoking those long thin cigars that he has in every movie you've ever seen him in. Brown looks like he's struggling to remember his lines, and mercifully, Kelly's character is mute. Van Cleef looks like he'd rather be elsewhere, as though he's disgusted with himself for even being in this film. Perhaps he was wishing he was Clint Eastwood, who was already a mega-star in '75, due in no small part to the fact that he returned to Hollywood instead of staying in Rome. Just kiddin'... I'm only bustin' on ya, Lee.
This one was actually filmed in the Cayman Islands, something to do with a rider in Jim Brown's contract - a tax dodge, perhaps?
Like I said, aside from the beautiful scenery and the novelty of the particular cast, there's not really much to like about this film. Even the stock spag western cliche of the camera zooming in to dramatic closeups on faces is overdone. I can actually tell you how many pores Jim Brown has on his nose. There was one laugh-out-loud scene worth mentioning. Williamson's character goes over a 700 foot or so waterfall, and the scene is comprised of a very obvious dummy tumbling down the falls interspersed with a screaming Williamson thrashing around in a swimming pool or jacuzzi or something. I almost pissed my pants. Dumb movie critic tagline for this one: "This one's so bad, be sure to 'take a hard ride' away from it!"
Here's the way-too-serious trailer ("It rides with the great westerns?" Puh-leeaze):