By Richard Winters
My Rating: 5 out of 10
4-Word Review: Couple steal from rich.
Jed (Thomas Milian) is an outlaw bank robber who sees himself as a modern day Robin Hood. Franciscus (Telly Savalas) is the sheriff determined to bring him in. When Francisus gets hot on Jed’s trail Jed uses the aid of beautiful young Sonny (Susan George) to evade capture. Sonny immediately becomes smitten with Jed despite the fact that he’s a very vocal misogynist. Sonny though ignores this as she’s so deeply wants to be in a loving relationship that she puts up with the abuse and even asks him to marry her, which he does, but his abuse continues. Jed then sets his sights on Linda (Rosanna Yanni) the wife of rich land baron Don Garcia (Eduardo Fajardo). Jed likes the fact that she has big breasts, which Sonny doesn’t, but when he puts the moves on her Sonny fights back by turning the tables on him and treating him in the same way that he did her.
After watching only a few minutes it’s easy to see why the spaghetti westerns went out of style as this lacks the lyrical quality of a Sergio Leone film, which put this unique genre on the map. Leone had that special knack that could mesh violence with subtle humor and make every scene, even one as insignificant as seeing flies fly around a person’t face, interesting. Sergio Corbucci, who directed this one, lacks that same ability and while he helmed some westerns in the 60’s this one doesn’t have a good balance. The action is bereft of any excitement while the humor is heavy-handed. The musical score by the always reliable Ennio Morricone is excellent, but everything else falls flat.
The storyline is the most annoying as Jed is too unlikable for anyone to want to fall in love with. His caustic comments on women are quite outlandish by today’s standards, which may offend some though others may get a kick out of it simply for the outrageousness. I have no doubt men back then may have been very much like his character, so on that end you could say it’s realistic, but having Sonny grow attached to him was off-putting. If he had reformed and then gotten married it might’ve made more sense, but to have the marriage occur in the middle when he’s still treating her like crap including one scene where he rapes her, just doesn’t work. His character does change a little at the very end, but it’s not enough to justify all she goes through and there’s no resolution as it shows them continuing to bicker without answering whether they were ever able to work things out, or ultimately broke-up.
Having Sonny so desperate to be loved, even at one point spying on another couple who are kissing and feeling envious, isn’t a sufficient enough reason for her to put up with the awful way he treats her. If she had been homely then maybe, but she’s actually quite attractive and could easily hold-out for something better making the way she throws herself at him too precipitous. Her character also needed more of an arc. The film teases this concept, but ultimately pulls-back when it should’ve pushed forward.
Milian’s performance is an acquired taste. Besides being vulgar and crude he also at one point scarfs up his spaghetti in such a slobbering manner that it’s genuinely disgusting and in another scene he gets under a cow and puts his lips directly over its teat and sucks the milk right out. Savalas, who is usually quite good in villainous roles, is only okay here. He’s supposed to be a relentless pursuer, but then allows Jed to escape while on a water raft instead of shooting him making him seem less threatening than he should.
Overall, this was George’s vehicle as she’s thoroughly engaging even able to mask her accent, which not all British performers can do, and at her most beautiful. I can only presume it was because of Milian’s star power that his character wasn’t downplayed because the movie would’ve worked better had it been solely centered around her and it’s just a shame she wasn’t given the keys.
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Released: August 11, 1972
Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes
Director: Sergio Corbucci