Deaf Smith and Johnny Ears (1973)

deaf smith and johnny ears

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Deaf mute saves Texas.

Deaf Smith (Anthony Quinn) and Johnny Ears (Franco Nero) are two special agents hired by President Sam Harris to put down any rebel factions that may try to impede Texas from achieving statehood. While Deaf, who lacks the ability to speak as well as hear, works on bringing down the bad guys by sneaking into one of their hideouts Johnny seems more interested in the women particularly a hooker named Susie (Pamela Tiffin) who he meets at the local cathouse.

These are the type of cheap, low grade, generic productions that end up giving spaghetti westerns a bad name. Had Sergio Leone been put in charge of this it might have been something special, but the director here has a poor eye for detail and lacks Leone’s poetic nuance. The action is poorly choreographed and unexciting and during a shootout inside a darkened cave it even becomes confusing and irritating. The music is loud and blares out melodies that do not reflect the period and the villain is bland and not given enough screen time to be able to create any type of effective menace.

Quinn, who doesn’t speak a single line of dialogue, is fabulous and manages to steal every scene that he is in. Nero on the other hand tends to overact especially with his exaggerated facial expressions. Tiffin, who appears nude from a distance during a segment done near a stream, shows a good campy side especially with the scene where she beats up Nero.

There was an actual Deaf Smith that the character here is loosely based on although the real Smith suffered only a partial loss of hearing and was not a mute. His real-life adventures were much more interesting than the ones portrayed here and the film would’ve done better had it stuck to those.

The movie also suffers from some anachronistic errors including having a scene featuring a Gatling Gun even though the setting for the film is 1836 and the gun itself wasn’t invented until 1862 when it was first used during the Civil War. The prop used to represent the gun looks cheap and flimsy while painted in a garish gold color that doesn’t deserve the Gatling name and only helps to cement this as barely watchable tripe.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Alternate Title: Los Amigos

Released: March 29, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 28Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Paolo Cavara

Studio: MGM

Available: None at this time.

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