Monday, May 29, 2017

Halleluja to Vera Cruz (1973)

Original title: Partirono Preti, Tomarono...Curati

Director: Bianco Manini

Writers: Bianco Manini, Ofelia Minardi

Composer: Luis Bacalov

Starring: Lionel Stander, Riccardo Salvino, Jean Louis, Giampiero Albertini, Clara Hopf, Flavio Colomaioni, Camillo Milli, Giancarlo Badessi

More info: IMDb

Plot:  Two con men disguised as Priests get mixed up with Bandits/revolutionaries looking for gold to fund their cause and the Mexican Army.

My rating:  4/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

The print I watched was a horrible fullscreen VHS copy with Greek subs burned in.  I had a hunch this wasn't going to be good.  It wasn't.  I don't know if the Italians loved broad, silly comedy or if its because I'm not watching the right ones that have a better sense of humor but it's too much for me and I like that style of funny...when it's funny.  The story meanders a little and there are spots that feel like filler like when Sam (Stander) and John (Salvino) take the time to deliver a baby in the middle of nowhere.  It's not funny (nor did it look like it was supposed to be) and it didn't add anything to the story.  It was just a few minutes of distraction from their mission to find the gold.  Maybe there's something I missed in the story like it parallels some religious adventure or something.  Beats me.  I wouldn't think you'd need to have some pretext in order to enjoy a goofy Spaghetti Western with only one known actor.  Even Stander's voice was dubbed by another actor.  I'm not sure I've seen much of his movie work (if any) outside of his European output from the 60s and 70s.  There was a brief moment of nudity which is unusual for this genre at that time.  It's a bland film that tries hard enough but the jokes didn't land with me and the pacing was slow.  Watching a nice widescreen print would've helped but probably not much. 

I was hoping for a more enjoyable score from Bacalov.  I listen to A LOT of Spaghetti Western music so I'm familiar with a good deal of it.  I can recognize the tunes, I can probably name the composer based on their style but I'm terrible with remembering any of the movies they go to unless it's the big films that I know very well.  This picture had one track that I knew but with a different arrangement.  I'm thinking of a cue from CHAPAQUA'S GOLD (1970).  I used to play this one on the trumpet (the track used in that film features the horn and it's beautifully played).  In HALLELUJA TO VERA CRUZ it's faster and it's a different arrangement altogether.  Being how it's the same composer from a couple of years earlier, it's understandable how it turned up in this movie but only once.  Another track was a mariachi band tune that I'm familiar with but I can't place the name or the movie it was used in previously. 

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