I Saw A Film
Is there anyone more squint and angular threat than Lee Van Cleef? Off the success of The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Van Cleef followed a thoroughly entertaining dusty trail of gunslinger roles that inspired so many spin-off tales they sprang up like pasture shrooms, and some were just as bizarrely psychedelic.
Of course the film is thoroughly loaded with the kind of unlikely slight of hand and inhuman trick-shots that heroes of westerns were imbued with as the genre ground itself towards the inevitable climax of having to outdo the last fantastic feat of impossible skills that save the day. In that, these old westerns have much in common with the spy and martial arts genres as well. You can only watch so many episodes of any particular “mission impossible” before you know you’ve seen all the likely scenarios sprinkled with telekinesis and hypnosis and possibly pools with sharks in them.
Sabata isn’t too bad. I didn’t watch the sequel yet though. The story is a familiar one, and the characters are more of a Good, Bad, and Strange set that relies on a lot of close-ups of gleaming-eye grins to establish charisma. A character called Banjo (because he plays a Banjo) rather steals the show, in the fight for the money Sabata is extorting from some corrupt town officials. The long view is that they’re trying to get a hold of some land the railroad will need so they can clean up in the sale, but none of this is particularly noteworthy as a compelling tale. The story is wrapped up entirely in the magnificent love story that brews between Sabata and the Banjo playing drifter, just kidding. As is so often the case with these old movies there are more feints and twists than a pay per view pro-wrestling match. There have to be a good number of “gotchas” otherwise the fuse would fizzle out on this snoozefest pretty quickly.
My only real complaint is the pretty ladies aren’t given a lot of screen time, and there’s no skin to speak of, otherwise, it’s a perfectly acceptable and standard “samurai” epic well worth the For Free on Prime time!
Also whenever I see Van Cleef I find myself watching for his missing digit on his right hand, he claims he sawed off accidentally long ago building his daughter a doll house! I didn’t see it this time but you can in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Enjoy.