July 30th, 2020

Alastair Attentive

Playing Right Into Sartana's Hands, One Last Time

Of all the official Sartana movies, the last one has the fewest gimmicks. 1970's Light the Fuse . . . Sartana is Coming (Una nuvola di polvere... un grido di morte... arriva Sartana "Cloud of dust... cry of death... Sartana is coming" finds the preternatural Spaghetti Western hero at his least preternatural. People even get the drop on him a few times. It does wonders for the level of tension in the film but, lest you worry the man in black and red has lost his touch, he still does plenty of satisfyingly impossible things.

He actually gets worked over in the beginning of the film by a bunch of guards after he's turned himself in for killing some deputies. Naturally, it's all part of the plan but it's still surprising to see. It has something like the effect of Sanjuro being worked over in Yojimbo, something previous Spaghetti Westerns took a lesson from to great effect. When you establish a guy as being such an impossibly skilled fighter, the perfectly credible circumstance of him being caught and having to pay for being such a smug bastard is truly shocking. Of course, it works better if you never actually say he's invincible. Superman getting hit by Kryptonite can be effective but somehow not as effective as Sanjuro or The Man With No Name or Navajo Joe getting the treatment, I guess because the movie has more subtly lulled you into not expecting something perfectly plausible.

But Sartana (Gianni Garko) is free again before twenty minutes have elapsed in the film's run time. He got himself caught so he could spring a guy named Granville (Piero Lulli). So unfolds a particularly complex plot of double crosses and violence as Granville tells Sartana a story about a casino owner who murders two thieves after he agrees to mediate for them when they decide to trade a load of counterfeit bills for a pile of gold.

Both caches of ill gotten goods are sought after by various parties including a cool as ice sheriff (Massimo Serato) and a beautiful widow named Belle (Nieves Navarro).

But my favourite is General Monk (Jose Jaspe), a big, wild eyed bandit leader who always wears a red and beige military coat with huge epaulettes over his bare chest.

It's a solid film. The plot hardly matters--it's really all about watching Garko strut around in his hat and cowl, showing off new moves and gadgets to win gunfights in improbable ways.

Light the Fuse . . . Sartana is Coming is available on Amazon Prime.