La Caza del Oro / Lo credevano uno stinco di santo
One thing that is nice about having a lot of unwatched spaghetti westerns is that when it comes time to watch one, often I just pick one out at random,without reading the box or looking it up in the SWDB first. Of course, it's hit or miss, but the nice thing is that, apart from the surprise element of it, I don't go into it with any particular expectation. Last night I did this, and my random pick was the Italian/Spanish co-production, Too Much Gold For One Gringo, directed by Juan Bosch. I enjoyed Bosch's Dig Your Grave, Friend, Sabata is Coming, and I enjoyed this one, too.
As the film starts out, we see several shady characters riding into town, who then start hanging out outside of a prison. They're all waiting for the release of an old guy named Dan Carver, who apparently stashed a bunch of gold back before going to prison. One of them is a guy named Trash Benson, played by genre regular Anthony Steffen. As Carver is about to be released and realizes there are a bunch of people outside waiting for him, he begs the warden, played by a clean-cut Raf Baldassare, to let him stay. Instead the warden shakes him down, wanting a share of the gold. Carver manages to knock out the warden and is returned to his cell. but before you know it, he's abducted by Benson. While breaking into the prison, he crosses paths with Carver's cellmate, Paco (Daniel Martin), and they work together to get Carver out, with the intent of getting a share of his gold, which he's not willing to share.
Of course, nobody really trusts each other, and after a few rather benevolent double-crosses (as they are hiding out from the gang that was waiting outside the prison who also wants Carver), they all decide to split the gold. Unfortunately, Carver falls ill and dies, writing down the location of the gold. Benson tells Paco to memorize it and then burs the paper, but learns shortly after that Paco can't read... and neither can Trash.
They manage to find out from the priest that helps bury Carver that he was once seen carrying an enourmous, very heavy statue, which now happens to be hidden in the nearby town, where a bandito played by Fernando Sancho (who else?) is also looking for the statue. Needless to say, after several shootouts with the outlaw gang and Sancho's gang, they find the gold.
Now, this wasn't a comedy but it sure was funny, as in the dialogue. Martin, in particular, gets some really funny smartassed one-liners in there with Steffen. And when Steffen's being beaten by the gang looking for the gold, he gives a line that cracked me up and you'd never hear Clint Eastwood say - "Go fart in your pudding!" Thinking back to Bosch's other film that I saw, ( Dig Your Grave, Friend, Sabata is Coming), I remember liking it because Bosch had put some characters together (in that one, Fernando Sancho and Richard Harrison) that, although they were on your typical serious spaghetti adventure, they seemed to have fun, a good chemistry, and doesn't fall into slapstick humor, which, personally, I can't stand. This one had that same appeal, and like that one, didn't overdo the "buddy" thing.
As far as the acting goes, it was a mixed bag. Sancho was really good in this one, even though he wasn't in the film very long. He was more intense than usual, and less cliched than usual. Martin was funny, and didn't overact. The big drawback was whoever overdubbed Steffen's English language track - he was sort of one-dimensional and sounded at times like he was doing an Eastwood impersonation. Steffen looked like he was having fun, and a more appropriate voice actor woud've conveyed that better.I watched a fan restoration that took an English audio track from some source (perhaps a VHS tape) and synched it (quite well, I must say) to what I'm assuming is the Italian "Hobby & Work Publishing SRL" release (the only one listed at the SWDB). Although it seemed to have a reddish tint to it, it looked quite good.
I tend to like my spaghettis serious, and for the most part, can't stand the "comedy" westerns. It was nice to see a film (by no means a perfect, top-shelf one) that was serious but made me laugh, as well. If you like that notion too, I'd recommend checking this one out.