Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bandidos (1967)

Sharpshooter who used to ride with a bandit gang is spared when his former friends rob a train and kill everyone on board. As a concession to their "leave no one alive" policy they shoot their former friend through the hands before riding off. Several years later the sharpshooter trains a convict how to shoot like the best. They tour the country in a sharp shooting act looking for the bad guys in the hope of taking revenge.

Dark Euro western has none of the grays that often muddied the lines between who is good and who is bad. Here the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad. There really isn't a middle ground. You will not like the bad guys one iota since they are such complete scum.

What I like here is that you completely understand the good guys motivation. You understand why they want revenge and as a result you genuine like them. I think on a certain level that in many Euro-westerns we admire the good guys (Eastwood's Man with No Name or Van Cleef's Sabata for example) more than we like them. Sure they do the "right" thing but they also do it with a touch of moral ambiguity that means as much as we like them we wouldn't really trust them. Here we have a couple of characters that we like, for the most part, and we trust. I think that's rare in westerns of this sort.

Shot in a beautiful widescreen the film has a number of set pieces that really show it off. The opening train massacre is stunning in widescreen and it beautifully sets the time and place of the action.

The action is also first rate. With the climatic shoot out another stunner.

I really like this western a great deal and think its worth the effort to track it down. The film is available on DVD as part of the the Thug City Chronicles set. That set is a really good packaging of 10 Euro-crime films with this being the only western.

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