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Author Topic: A Pistol for Ringo  (Read 9253 times)
Marco Leone
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« on: May 10, 2005, 02:24:04 PM »

Ok, its another Marco Leone review..........

"Merry Christmas".

It is with this customary exchange that "A Pistol for Ringo" opens. Christmas is only two days away, but the towns-folks festive celebrations are about to come to an abrupt halt, when a band of mexicans, led by Sancho (played, quite aptly, by Fernando Sancho), take a ranch and its inhabitants hostage following a failed escape from a bank-robbery. The local sheriff, Ben, (played in true Hollywood style by Jorge Martin) has the ranch surrounded, but cannot attack for fear of the hostages being massacred. A particular concern in view of the fact that his love interest is amongst the hostages. Ringo (Gemma) is spending time in jail for the killing (albeit in "self defence") of a local gang. But when Sancho threatens to kill two hostages a day unless he and his gang are freed, the Sheriff has no option but to send in Ringo.

This is a really enjoyable movie, that sits somewhere in-between the dirt and grittiness of Leone and his Italian counterparts, and the classic American western. Even Morricone's soundtrack leans towards 50/60's Hollywood, with its crooned (and toe-tappingly catchy) theme tune.

The leading roles played by Gemma and Sancho are very convincing, and the dialogue is entertaining and full of classic quotes throughout: "God created men equal. It was the six gun that made them different". Ringo is far cleaner than Eastwood's Man With No Name (thus his name Angel Face), and cares not for alcohol, much preferring milk. But he shares the same ability and ruthlessness with a gun. Sancho meanwhile is gruff and merciless, revelling in carrying out his threat to kill one hostage at sunrise and one at sunset daily. Didn't anyone tell him it was the season of goodwill to all men?Huh

Although not quite as strong as Director Tessari's follow up "Return of Ringo", this is one of the best of the early Spaghettis, and definitely a must view.

4/4

Like I've said many many times before, anyone that wants to add a review to this or any other Spaghetti Western, I'd love to feature it on my site (see link below).

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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2005, 08:36:41 AM »

Thanks for the review Marco. I've never had a chance to see any of the Ringo films. Hopefully I'll stumble across one soon.

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Marco Leone
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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2005, 02:04:31 PM »

Its certainly worth checking out the two original Tessari ones "A Pistol for Ringo" and "Return of Ringo".  Pretty much the same cast in both, great Morricone soundtrack (of course!) and really good stories.

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« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2005, 07:39:20 PM »

I just finished watching "A Pistol For Ringo". It was fun...especially seeing so many locations that were to become very, very familiar in Spaghettiland...including the windmill that Cuchillo took a "ride" on in "Run, Man, Run"....Fernando Sancho, in an early role, one of  many (many..many..many) memorable SW he appeared in.
The score was wonderful...Morricone honing & perfecting his craft.......extremely listenable & entertaining.
Duccio Tessari helped usher in the era as a co-writer on "Fistful Of Dollars"...& soon after directed this, his first Western.
On the whole...not bad..not bad at all.........the Italian Western as it was growing up.

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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2005, 01:44:32 PM »

Agreed Angel.  Plus, sancho is always a really good asset to any movie.  I also think that Gemma is really good in the Ringo films - I love his opening introduction into the film.

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« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2005, 04:25:44 PM »

Gemma is a bad ass!
My favorite part in Ringo is when he jumps at the guy and goes through the roof.
Anyone here ever see his sculptures before?
www.giulianogemma.it
I hope we can see him again in a western sometime soon.

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« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2007, 02:35:08 AM »

A Pistol For Ringo
3.5 out of 4 stars

This is the second spaghetti I've seen where the lead character prefers to drink milk (the other being Death Sentence). Made in 1965 by Duccio Tessari, this film comes right at the beginning of the big Euro-western craze and therefore, as others have pointed out, straddles the two genres of classical western and revisionist western.

This dichotomy presents itself in the actions of two of the characters -- Ringo, as played by Giuliano Gemma (aka Montgomery Wood) and the sheriff, played by George Martin -- and the choices they make in dealing with the bandit gang led by Fernando Sancho (and his Shemp-esque haircut}. At a point midway through the movie, as Ringo explains his plan to wipe out the criminals, the sheriff scoffs: "You'd kill 'em just like that? Without even giving them a chance to surrender?" Ringo admonishes him for being soft: "Come off it, sheriff. You're as sentimental as a schoolgirl. You ain't never going to live no ripe old age that way."

The film begins with two men on an old western town street wishing each other a merry Christmas, and the holiday serves as an interesting undercurrent for the remainder of the film. Though the movie takes place in the days leading up to Christmas, there exists little of the kindness or compassion that the day is usually celebrated for. Instead, we get a series of killings, robberies and double crosses.

When we meet Ringo "Angelface," the sheriff is trying to catch up to Ringo, who has just arrived back in town after being let out of jail on murder charges. The verdict was self-defense, and by the time the sheriff finds him, Ringo has added four more counts of killing in self-defense to his record.

This lands him in jail just in time to witness a gang of bandits rob the bank and massacre a good part of the town. The sheriff, his assistant Tim, and a posse give chase, but the bandits find shelter by taking over a ranch where, coincidence would have it, the sheriff's fiancee Ruby and her father live. The bandit leader Sancho demands safe passage back to Mexico in exchange for the hostages' lives. To show he means business, he tells the sheriff that he'll kill two hostages a day -- one at dawn, one at sunset -- starting with the ranch hands until their demands are met.

The sheriff has a conundrum. He's pressured by the bank staff to get the money back at all costs. Meanwhile, Ruby is on the inside, potentially being accosted by her captors. The sheriff and his assistant come up with a plan -- they'll send Ringo in to infiltrate the gang and protect the hostages until the cavalry can arrive. Ringo agrees to do so, for 30% of the stolen loot.

Ringo rides right up to the front door and begins playing with Sancho one of those chess games that work out so well in spaghetti westerns. The gang leader, the fiancee and her father, even we as the audience can't be sure which side the smooth-faced but sly Ringo is on.

The film touches upon some interesting themes of race and class. Dolores, Sancho's main squeeze as they say, finds herself being woo'ed by Ruby's father. Ruby seems none too pleased, and we can never quite be sure whether it's because Dolores is a member of the bandit gang, or because she is Mexican. At one point, Ruby spits out in anger that she's sure that Dolores has worked in plenty of kitchens. Also, some interesting scenes exist where the lower class criminals experience culture clash with the well-to-do Ruby and her father (mostly in issues of food and drink -- at one point the bandits are offered vintage Dom Perignon).

Beneath the classes of wealthy ranchers and banditos are the ranch hands, a silent group of poor Mexicans who exist only for target practice it seems. Indeed, the sheriff and his posse seem uninterested as these poor folks are murdered, so long as the white wealthy girl and her father come through the ordeal.

Key moments come at the end of the film, as Ringo fights one of Sancho's men hand-to-hand until one of them finds an axe, and as Ringo leaps down through a skylight with another of the bandits beneath him. An effective, even if a bit mellow, score by Morricone punctuates the action.

Recommended.  Afro

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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2007, 08:30:19 AM »

This is definetely one of the top spaghettis - my opinion of it is probably obvious! My only complaint is that the aristocrats are unlikeable and boring, but Gemma and Sancho (and the lovely Nieves Navarro) more than make up for it.

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« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2007, 01:55:46 PM »

This is definetely one of the top spaghettis - my opinion of it is probably obvious! My only complaint is that the aristocrats are unlikeable and boring, but Gemma and Sancho (and the lovely Nieves Navarro) more than make up for it.

I disagree with your views on the Major and his daughter. I would say George Martin (as the Sheriff) is the dullest of the bunch.

Other than that I would have to say this has the best cast in any non-Leone spaghetti western.

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« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2007, 03:27:37 PM »

Ditto, FC. Although I didn't find Martin dull perse, I think that's the way he was supposed to play his character. He was the upright, well-to-do sheriff with a good financial future. Since he was to marry the rich mans daughter, this played off of Gemma's danger seeker, devil-may-care, bad boy attitude that presented a brief conflict with the girl. Wish that angle could have gotten explored a little more.

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« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2007, 04:59:33 AM »

Silenzio's  review:-

A Pistol for Ringo

Simply put: this Spaghetti was excellent.  I really like Giuliano Gemma, he brought more personality to the typical, laconic SW hero (not that there's anything wrong with that).  Fernando Sancho is.... well, Fernando Sancho.  I really loved his bandit gang in this movie, particularly during the opening bank heist.  They seem relaxed, almost bored even, while they shoot down half the population of the town.  I could've sworn i saw one guy yawn after he shot down a townperson for now apparent reason.  The story is good, and Ringo does a great job of manipulating Sancho to his will.  The Christmas time period helped thsi film as well.  For instance, in the first shot, you see two guys approach each other, and you expect some kind of stand off, and then they just shake hands and say, "Merry Christmas."  That made me laugh.  I have a question, though, on the aspect ratio.  You see, on the version i pirated.... I mean... the version i "obtained" it seems that the widescreen started off as 1.85:1, and then switched to 2.35:1 for the opening credits, and then back to 1.85 for the rest of the movie.  Was the version  i saw cropped?  I've seen some sources list the proper ratio as 2.35, and yet others as 1.85, which one is correct?


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« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2007, 03:57:26 PM »

The dvd in the japanese box I have is like this as well. The other 3 films are all 2:35 though. Maybe someone can clarify if other versions were full wide or not.

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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2007, 01:14:05 PM »

PISTOL FOR RINGO- 1965

Guiliano Gemma, Fernando Sancho, George Martin, Nieves Navarro

Superb spaghetti western starring one of the greatest and best loved Italian western actors, Guiliano Gemma. Ringo, or as his friends call him, Angel Face, is hired to rescue some prisoners being held captive by a gang of Mexican cutthroats led by the always reliable Fernando Sancho. 

Gemma’s Ringo is a sly, mischievous and swaggering hero who has a satchel full of funny and sarcastic quips  that help enliven this wonderful Duccio Tessari film. The only small problem I have with the picture is that the sheriff is to marry the young lady being held captive by the gang. There are several scenes where Ringo and the girl may end up together but nothing comes of it. It would've been an interesting plot device. Since the sheriff is a well to do and upright citizen shying away from cunning or deceptive means to accomplish a goal while Ringo, who would welcome such shenanigans, seems to attract the aristocratic young lady with his bad boy attitude and demeanor.

I suppose considering all the action that takes place, adding this to the mix could've been overkill. Plus, you already have the plot device of Nieves Navarro's character falling out of love with the sloppy and (lovably) disgusting Fernando Sancho character and in love with the rich land owner. At first, it is merely a deceit to hopefully mount an escape, but later the patriarch finds himself equally attracted to the once savage Dolores who has now been tamed by his charms.

Gemma's Ringo is also the only time I've seen a spaghetti hero that doesn't drink alcohol but instead prefers milk. There are so many likeable and complex attributes to this character. He is at both times exibiting affections towards children then switching gears immediately to gunning down a group of killers. He has both humanity and a calculating and at times deceptive sense for survival utilizing whatever means at his disposal. He knows just what to say and how to play off of the central villains to keep himself in their "good graces". I don't recall seeing another character quite like this in one of these movies.

Gemma would go on to an illustrious career in film making the transition from the westerns to comedies of various genres to crime films to war pictures among others. He would work with the likes of Kirk Douglas, George Peppard, Henry Fonda, John Huston and Orson Welles.

Tessari seemed to enjoy shooting westerns that take place during Christmas as he revisits the holiday in his ALIVE OR PREFERABLY DEAD also starring Gemma. A highly recommended movie regardless of genre and essential viewing for any western fan. Gemma returned in the unrelated RETURN OF RINGO.

Tessari would also direct the only Italian blaxploitation movie, the horrible TOUGH GUYS (1974) starring Issac Hayes, Lino Ventura, Fred Williamson and William Berger.

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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2009, 03:17:01 PM »

It seems like I'm the only one who didn't like the movie which I found interminable, stupid (the gang killing for fun the town folks and not killing the sheriff, just recommending him to stay put while they make their escape, which of course he doesn't. Yes, that is essential for the plot to develop; and Ringo not killing Sancho and his two pards after having returned from the "blackened face" raid; Ringo is looking for a pistol, apparently not aware of the guns hanging from the walls) , you name it.  What I save of it. Nieves Navarro, of course. The Morricone score, absolutely on another level as compared to the images: Morricone took the chance to make interesting music even in pure incidental music. Sancho is very funny: his percentage exchanges with Gemma are unique. Gemma also is good (see the way he unsaddles when arriving at Sancho's. This could have been better if shorter. 6\10.

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« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2009, 03:30:52 PM »

It seems like I'm the only one who didn't like the movie which I found interminable, stupid (the gang killing for fun the town folks and not killing the sheriff, just recommending him to stay put while they make their escape, which of course he doesn't. Yes, that is essential for the plot to develop; and Ringo not killing Sancho and his two pards after having returned from the "blackened face" raid; Ringo is looking for a pistol, apparently not aware of the guns hanging from the walls) , you name it.  What I save of it. Nieves Navarro, of course. The Morricone score, absolutely on another level as compared to the images: Morricone took the chance to make interesting music even in pure incidental music. Sancho is very funny: his percentage exchanges with Gemma are unique. Gemma also is good (see the way he unsaddles when arriving at Sancho's. This could have been better if shorter. 6\10.

Well I don't think killing people in cold blood was part of Navarro's character. I only remember the one gun hanging in the house that was hidden from sight. Of course he isn't going to simply kill Sancho and co. at the first available moment as it wasn't the right time and it is just a movie after all. Plus, he had eyes on the money and he was so cocky and assured of his abilities, he could kill the bad guys at literally any time he wanted. Such is the scene wherein he is tied up and is being beat up by Sancho and one of his men. They even tell him he's going to die and Ringo, now "helpless" is still able to dupe Sancho into "partnering" with him.

IMO, this is one of the best ever, and one of my all time favorites.

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