Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Forgotten Pistolero (1969)

The Forgotten Pistolero (Il pistolero dell'Ave Maria) is a fairly obscure spaghetti western, and it’s quite a pleasant surprise.

Rafael and Sebastian are two young men who encounter one another and at first it appears they have little in common. In fact Rafael has been searching for Sebastian for years. They were childhood friends. A lengthy flashback sequence now intervenes.

Sebastian and his sister were the children of a famous Mexican general. When he returned from the war (and I’m not entirely sure which war this was) he received an unexpected welcome from his wife Anna. She and her lover Tomas proceeded to murder him. Sebastian and his friend Rafael (the son of a servant) had fled after the murder and had not been seen since. But while vengeance might be delayed it cannot be avoided indefinitely.

Sebastian will eventually discover that his family situation was actually even more complicated than it seemed.

The plot is based vaguely on the story of the murder of King Agamemnon after his return from the Trojan War.

Director Ferdinando Baldi had a lengthy career that seems to have spent largely making peplums and spaghetti westerns. There’s nothing flashy about this movie but Baldi’s direction is more than competent. The script is clever and (by the standards of 1960s Italian genre movies) fairly coherent. The pacing is excellent and technically the movie is very very solid.

The acting is also quite strong. Leonard Mann as Sebastian, Pietro Martellanza as Rafael, Luciano Paluzzi as the murderous Anna and Alberto de Mendoza as the treacherous but smooth Tomas all give fine performances.

Roberto Pregadio’s score does its best to sound like an Ennio Morricone score but it works extremely well.

There’s no one element that really stands out, this Italian-Spanish co-production is simply a well-made and very entertaining example of its genre with no obvious faults and it all holds together nicely.

This movie has been released under various alternative titles, including Gunman of Ave Maria.

I picked this one up, along with a stack of other spaghetti westerns, in a bargain bin. There’s absolutely no indication on either the disc or the box as to its origin or who released it except that it’s an NTSC all-region disc. It’s letterboxed and the picture quality is exceptionally good for a bargain DVD.


venoms5 said...

Great write up for one of my favorite Euro westerns. It's been released multiple times in various places including Germany and Japan. The Wild East double feature ports over the X Rated Kult DVD version. The score has turned up on numerous commercials including Wendy's and taco shell commercials and I even caught it on a cartoon show on Cartoon Network a couple years ago, lol!

dfordoom said...

V, it's certainly whetted my appetite for more spaghetti westerns.