Minnesota Clay (1964)

minnesota clay 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Gunfighter loses his sight.

Minnesota Clay (Cameron Mitchell) is a revered gunfighter stuck in a work camp prison for a crime he didn’t commit. One day he manages to escape and tracks down Fox (Georges Riviere) the man who withheld evidence that would have gotten him off. Fox is now the self-imposed sheriff and extorting money from the citizens of a town in order to keep them ‘safe’.  One of the townspeople is Minnesota’s grown daughter Nancy (Diana Martin) although she is not aware of this and local rancher Jonathan (Antonio Casas) is the only other person that does. As Minnesota tries to figure out a way to exact his revenge while also saving his daughter and townspeople from the reign of terror he realizes that he is losing his sight and doesn’t have much time before he goes completely blind.

For a basic spaghetti western this isn’t too bad. It certainly is no Sergio Leone masterpiece, but it fortunately isn’t the cheap looking, boring mess that some of the ones on the very bottom end of the genre are. The pace is quick with enough gunfights to appease any western fan. Director Sergio Corbucci manages to camouflage the low budget with a background and sets that look reasonable authentic. The plot is nothing special, but has enough twists and turns to keep it mildly interesting although having the Estella character (Ethel Rojo) one minute set-up Minnesota to be killed and then the next minute express her undying love for him gets a bit too dizzying.

One of the chief assets is amazingly Mitchell himself. His acting career started strong in the 1950’s including his critically acclaimed role as Happy Loman in the original Broadway version and eventual 1951 film Death of a Salesman, but a rumored drinking problem lead to a decline in the quality of roles. By the 1980’s he was lodged into doing a procession of grade Z productions simply for the money including shockingly co-starring in a non-sexual role in a porn film Dixie Ray Hollywood Star. Yet here he still shows to be the solid actor that he could be. He carries the picture well and having him a bit older than the conventional gunslinger makes it interesting.

The final shootout done when Minnesota has lost his sight and must rely completely on his heightened sense of hearing is well done and the best moment in the film. It lasts for almost fifteen minutes and has a certain surreal quality due to it happening in the middle of the night and neither man able to see the other. It might have been more interesting though had the character lost his sight at the very beginning, which would have made the entire story more distinctive as the majority of it is pretty ordinary and forgettable.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: November 12, 1964

Runtime: 1Hour 25Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Sergio Corbucci

Studio: Harlequin International Pictures

Available: DVD (Mill Creek)

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