Thursday, 28 March 2019

Death Walks in Laredo

(Italian: Tre pistole contro Cesare, aka Three Golden Boys and The Pistol, The Karate and The Eye)

A Super Ace Italian spaghetti western film directed by Enzo Peri and shot in Algeria in 1967. It is also influenced by the Sword-and-sandal film genre.

"A gunman teams up with his long-lost brothers - a French hypnotist and a Japanese kung-fu expert - to fight a villain who is obsessed with Roman emperor Julius Caesar, to the point of having built a palace, complete with slave girls, a huge sunken bath and his own 'Praetorian Guard.', and who is trying to cheat them out of a gold mine left to them by their father." (IMDb).

"The bad guy is named Julius Caesar Fuller, wears togas, stocks his palace bath with concubines, and commands dozens of henchmen clad in black. A lost episode of the Batman TV show? No, a bizarre spaghetti western. One of our three heroes is American, carries an array of trick guns, and never misses a shot. The second is Japanese and practices kung fu. The third is French and has magical magnetic powers. The three discover soon that they are half-brothers." (IMDb).

'Weird but wonderful - a unique Euro-western experience' - Review by marc-3668, September 2005

Now, there are many euro-westerns that would fit into the "weird" category, but woh this one is weirder than most!

The story starts with Whity Selby (Thomas Hunter) being confronted by a solicitor whilst leaving a saloon (inside which he has just thwarted an attack by killing all three opponents with one blast of his four-barrelled pistol - one of many gimmicky weapons in his arsenal.

The solicitor advises Selby that his father, who had died ten years ago and he had never met, had left him his goldmine as part of a will. The document is accompanied by a picture of a young girl. Selby travels to Laredo to reclaim his father's legacy, and to identify the identity of the girl.

On arriving at the goldmine, Selby encounters two men on a similar mission - Etienne Devereaux (Nadir Moretti), a man of french origin with magical powers of magnetism (honestly!) and Lester Kato (James Shigeta), a kung-fu kicking oriental. As the three men fight it out for what they consider rightfully theirs, they are accosted by an old local man, and it soon becomes clear from the ensuing discussions and matching wills/photos that the three are unlikely brothers. Their father enjoyed the company of women, and many of them!

The men are informed that their father fought bitterly to retain his land, but had been forced out of Laredo by powerful landowner "Julius Caesar" Fuller (Enrico Maria Salerno) - a man obsessed by the history of the great roman leader, likening him to the power that he himself possesses. Fuller is quite possibly the strangest character of all the euro-westerns that I have seen - he lives in a replica palace, has a penchant for young girls, surrounded by scantily clad ladies from around the world as his lolls about in his toga. He is guarded by a gang of pistoleros all clad in black (reminiscent of the equally bizarre Django Kill which, incidentally, I believe this film predates).

All in all Death Walks in Laredo makes for quite compulsive viewing! Not just because of its unique and bizarre take on the genre, but also for its interesting story with its subtle twists and turns. Thomas Hunter is pretty convincing in the main character role, but not as enjoyable as Salerno, who hams his Caesar role in a style reminiscent of Jack Nicholson.

There are also some moments of great humour - with some priceless dialogue as the old man explains why it has taken ten years for the wills to reach the brothers. The confrontation between the two ladies is also very pleasing on my male eyes!

Can I recommend this? Well, of course! But there is probably as much a chance of you hating it as loving it. Personally, I had a love in.

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