Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! [Spara, Gringo, spara] (1968)
AKA The Longest Hunt, Rainbow, Tire Django, tire (France)
Starring Brian Kelly, Keenan Wynn, Erika Blanc, Folco Lulli, Fabrizio Moroni, Linda Sini, Rik Battaglia, Giovanni Pallavicino, Luigi Bonos, Furio Meniconi, Robert Beaumont, Lina Franchi
Directed by Bruno Corbucci
Expectations: Low. You never know what you’re getting with these.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! was directed by Bruno Corbucci, younger brother of famed spaghetti western director Sergio Corbucci who was responsible for such classics as Django, The Great Silence and Navajo Joe. But within the western genre, the younger Corbucci only made one spaghetti western comedy, The Three Musketeers of the West, and one straight western. Unfortunately, Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! is definitely not up to the same class of film as his brother’s legacy. That’s OK, though, as it’s unfair to expect brothers to make films of a similar caliber, or even of a similar style. For what it is — a second-tier spaghetti western — Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! is one of the better ones I’ve seen and it remains quite entertaining throughout.
Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! is about Stark, a lone badass who begins the film rotting away in a basement jail cell. He quickly escapes and seeks revenge on some guy for some reason, which leads him to killing a few guards and then getting himself recaptured. These men take him to their leader, who initially wants to hang him for his transgressions, but then decides to strike up a deal instead. If Stark can bring back the leader’s son, who’s absconded with a band of outlaws, then they will let him go free. Stark agrees with nothing to lose, and the game is afoot.
This begins a series of “I’ve got you! … Oh shit… Now you’ve got me!” exchanges that can go either way depending on your mood. I chose to find most of them rather fun and likened them to the quick shifts of power in a wuxia film. You might not be so tolerant, and even I tired after the 9,854th shift of power, but I’ll take quick twists and interesting scenes over pure boredom any day.
What keeps Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! from venturing into those boring lands, are its fun, interesting characters (particularly the two leads). Our hero Stark might be a little too… stark for my tastes, but Brian Kelly (of Flipper fame) absolutely looks the part. Fabrizio Moroni plays Fidel, the errant son, and he lends the film a slight homosexual charm that even I couldn’t ignore. There’s also Keenan Wynn in a small, but memorable supporting role as the leader of the outlaw group.
Another reason the film remains entertaining is its varied scenery, taking us from dusty western towns and Mexican adobe buildings to dry, sandy deserts and gorgeous, mountainous country. This isn’t an amazing looking film by any means, but oftentimes it comes very close, and I imagine with a bit more budget they really could have made this one unique. A good remastering would also help out, as the print is rather faded and tired looking (although still of better quality than a lot of these old Italian westerns that aren’t Leone or Sergio Corbucci films).
I don’t have much else to say. If you already like spaghetti westerns beyond the giant, well-known touchstones, then I’d definitely recommend Shoot, Gringo… Shoot! as one to check out. On the other hand, if you’re more of the “I’ve only seen the Dollars trilogy” sort of fan, then I’d go with a different film first. Perhaps something by the other Corbucci.