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Director: Damiano Damiani, Sergio Leone Screenplay: Damiano Damiani, Ernesto Gastaldi, Fulvio Morsella Cast: Terence Hill, Robert Charlebois, Patrick McGoohan, Miou-Miou, Klaus Kinski Producers: Claudio Mancini, Fulvio Morsella, Rafran C. Rialto, Sergio Leone Print Source: Cinémathèque française
Today’s special, folks, is a fine plate of Spaghetti Western, served up on the lighter side of the genre — with a bonus Quebecois garnish in the form of no less than national rock icon Robert Charlebois, in a central and delightful role! Charlebois plays Locomotive Bill, a half-Indian scoundrel and quick-change artist scampering across the Wild West with his free-spirited collaborator Lucy (vintage French sex kitten Miou-Miou), always a step ahead of the law. The pair fall in with Joe Merci (Terence Hill), a bright-eyed and dashing gunslinger whose most effective weapon isn’t his revolver. Joe Merci is absolutely brilliant, you see. Even the worst situation can’t wipe the guileless smile off his face, because he’s always got an ingenious solution up his sleeve. Joe Merci’s elaborate plans range from playful little pranks — as feared gunfighter Doc Foster (a characteristically bug-eyed and seething Klaus Kinski) quickly discovers — to grand and complicated schemes lesser mortals would surely bungle. The target of his latest, shall we say, project is the treacherous, racist U.S. Cavalry Major Cabot (Patrick McGoohan, star of cult TV series THE PRISONER), and the payoff, aside from a little justice for the local First Nations community, is a cool $300,000!
Robert Charlebois is an absolute joy in this fun, freewheeling Western adventure-comedy, displaying excellent comic chops (whatever the crazy costume circumstances might demand he slap on — monk, cavalryman, bearded bum…). His debut film performance — of too few, given the great screen charisma he projects here — finds Charlebois in the middle of a Spaghetti Western with all the familiar fixings. He’s acting alongside Terence Hill (MY NAME IS NOBODY, the TRINITY movies), a regular fixture in the genre — as was the always-hilarious (intentionally or not) Klaus Kinski. The film’s score is a goofy, playful lark from the maestro of the Made-in-Italy cowboy flick, Ennio Morricone, employing catchy little riffs and unusual sounds as only he does. It holds its own alongside much of what Morricone composed for the great Sergio Leone (ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY). Speaking of whom, Leone produced and supervised, and in fact directed this film’s characteristically minimalist, tension-ratcheting prologue sequence — his last work ever in the Western genre! Crazy stories abound around this film, a few of which Mr. Charlebois himself will regale the lucky crowd with at our screening. So paste on your fake beard, saddle up and gallop on over to Fantasia to catch this worthy addition to the classic Spaghetti Western canon!