Friday, November 26, 2010

Blindman (1971)

Director: Ferdinando Baldi

Starring: Tony Anthony, Ringo Starr, Lloyd Battista

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Blindman, Blindman, what did he do? Stole 50 women that belong to you.

Plot: A blind, but deadly, gunman, is hired to escort fifty mail order brides to their miner husbands. His business partners double cross him, selling the women to bandit Domingo. Blindman heads into Mexico in pursuit.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Probably not before I watch most of the other 500+ spags I haven't seen.

Here's yet another film that's been on my radar for many years that I'm finally getting to for the first time. The biggest for me was Ringo Starr. I love that guy. He was the one Beatle that always looked like he was having a blast. He's charismatic and cool. The song he recorded (I thought to be used in this film) has been in my spag music rotation since the beginning of my 200+ spag track compilation I put together many years ago. It's a great tune and it's nowhere in the picture. In fact, there's not even any music during the opening credits. I just played Ringo's tune as I watched it and it fits perfectly. Hmmmm. I wonder if it was yanked at some point.

Also to my horror, Starr's voice has been dubbed by someone else! I guess his English accent was too much to be believable as a Mexican bandito. I don't care. I would have preferred his voice just the same. Tony Anthony is also a charismatic and instantly likable guy. He's about the only thing I liked about GET MEAN (1976) which, outside of BLINDMAN is the only film of his I've seen. He's the kind of guy that moves slower than the world around him. He's care-free and he likes it that way.

"To be blind is a half a man;
to be blind with no that's a bitch."

BLINDMAN is kind of a riff on the famous Japanese series of ZATOICHI films that started in the early 60s and ended in the 70s with about 25 films in total. There's plenty of action, nudity and foul language in BLINDMAN which was odd for the genre! I was floored by the amount of nudity for starters. It's a rare thing to see in a spaghetti western and to see so much of it was shocking. Then there's the language. That's another rare occurrence in spags, too, so to hear "bitch", "shit" et al several times is astonishing. Anthony utters "fuck" at one point and the context and the way he delivers it is priceless!

Even though it's a tad longer than most spags (most ran about 90 minutes - this one's 101) it feels longer because of the surprising lack of music. Stelvio Cipriani's score works fine when it's there but the themes are particularly memorable and it's very sparse. It felt like perhaps he was working with a first-time director that didn't know shit about music placement but didn't want to give full trust and control to the composer. I know that's not the case as Baldi had directed 22 pictures prior to this one. Beats me. All I know is that there were many places that felt naked and dragged - spots that could have greatly benefited from a few well-placed notes.

Overall, it's fun and different than the usual spaghetti western fare of the day. I prefer this kind of subtle and dark humor than the slapstick that invaded a lot of Euoro westerns in the early 70s. More music and Ringo's Liverpoolian accent would have helped in more ways than one.

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