Silver Saddle (1978)

Sella d'argento

As a child, Roy Blood watched as his father was gunned down by the henchman of a locale landowner running the man and his boy off their land. Roy quickly kills the henchman, taking his prized silver saddle as a trophy. Now a grown man, Roy is a feared bounty hunter. He is hired by a landowner to assassinate who Roy believes to be the man who was responsible for his father's death. After it turns out to be a small child, Roy saves the boy and with his sidekick, Two-Strike Snake, attempts to find out who has ordered the child's death and why.

With the above description involving kids and such, it's hard to believe that this rather light film was directed by notorious "Gorror" director, Lucio Fulci. Even more surprising is that it is one of the ultra dark, graphically violent Twilight Westerns (post-classic Spaghetti Westerns noted for their dark and damp look and balladic narrative.) However, the film still maintains traces of both surprises. The deaths in this film can often be graphic with blood squibs and such. And the narrative still has a slight resemblence to the balladic feel of earlier twilights such as Keoma and Mannaja. But the film works much better as tribute to the classic Spaghetti Western and as such, is only twilight in its post classic filming period (1978) and musical score.

It is hard not to enjoy this film. It is possible not to necessarily like it but so much is going on in the film that there is hardly a dull moment. Also, the film seems mostly to be have been made as entertainment. The story is rather weak, as I found it was constantly overshadowed by the cheesy relatioship between hardened Gemma and his pre-teen companion. The action scenes are many and all excellently staged with a certain suspense level held strong throughout each engagement. These also serve as a good excuse for former acrobat/stuntman Giuliano Gemma to showcase his impressive athletic abilities.

It also works good as a buddy film. Geoffrey Lewis is great as Snake. Gemma's comedic relief. There is also Sven Valsechi as the kid. He's a little too cutsey for comfortability but it's alright. Like I said, a lot of the scenes between the buddies overshadow the plot. However, the plot is easy to follow and unique.

Gemma is good as usual, as Roy Blood. As you might have guessed, the kid and him are supposed to teach each other life lessons inadvertently. The Kid softens Roy and Roy hardens the Kid. Gemma, however, is still playing the same type of character he has played a lot of times. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Geoffrey Lewis looks like he's having fun in his very animated role. Tis' a pity he was dubbed by someone else. Valsechi, as I said, is a bit too cutsey with his little outfit and lisp. But he didn;t annoy me too much at all.

Fulci's direction is quite good. A little uneven as the brutal violence is often mixed with the soft hearted tender moments. He apparently intended the film to be much more graphic and dark but Gemma toned this down as he had his reputaton to consider. He does a great job with the action and has a very keen eye for the cinematography. He and his cinematographer, Sergio Salvati, capture Almeria beautifully.

The score by Frizzi, Bixio, and Tempera is there usual soft rock mixed with some classic Spaghetti western jams, great Mexican music mostly. The title song is extremely catchy and is perhaps played once too often, but I didn't hate it as others have. I watched the marvelous Koch DVD. Their restoration wondefully captures the vivid colors of the film as well as the Spanish landscape. Thankfully, we have English Audio options.

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