The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

3 Bullets for Ringo

When I think spaghetti westerns, I usually think bandits, gunslingers, hired guns and shootouts and gunfights galore. I'm usually at least somewhat right. Then there's 1966's 3 Bullets for Ringo (although it has several other titles). The gunplay is actually the worst thing going here. Go figure, but it was certainly a change of pace...some good and some bad.

Having saved a young woman, Jane (Milla Sannoner), from a gang of Mexican bandits, hired guns and partners Ringo (Mickey Hargitay) and Frank (Gordon Mitchell) decide to part ways rather than fight over the girl. As the Civil War starts up, Ringo stays behind and marries Jane, becoming the sheriff of Stone City. Once the war has ended though, Ringo is blinded in a shootout with Confederate renegades....of whom Frank is part of. Hired by the corrupt local mine owner, Daniels (Ivano Staccioli), Frank becomes sheriff and helps him rule the town and all its valuables with a brutal hand. Pushed too far, a blinded Ringo must do something to save his family, his business and his town.

It's rare to see a spaghetti western with a story like this. Not the former partners turned against each other, or even the corrupt banker/mine owner/businessman looking to clean up in the $-department. That's pretty familiar territory. What isn't so familiar is how the story starts and then completely goes down a different path. A full 20-minutes is spent introducing Ringo and Frank, then a bizarre one-scene Civil War transition, and wham! We're back in Stone City, and the former partners are on opposite sides. That's just the start though, and a lot to start in just an 87-minute movie (or at least the public domain version I watched). We've also got betrayals, backstabbings, deeds to land, a blind hero, and lots, lots of shooting.

There's only one problem with all that shooting. It's bad. Real bad. This will sound somewhat odd, but there is an art to making a believable, somewhat well-choreographed gunfight. This western from director Emimmo Salvi just doesn't have it in it. An opening shootout with a gang of Mexican bandits has Ringo and Frank emptying pistols with unlimited ammo into bandits, then bopping them on their heads with their fists, sticks, rocks, whatever's around. Why don't the bandits shoot back? Most of the gunfights are much worse than that. Ringo shoots and shoots and shoots without reloading, standing unprotected in a street while an army of gunmen shoot back. He of course, is fine. An impressive body count, yes, but some of the most awkward, stagey gunfights I've ever seen in a movie to the point it's laughable to watch.

As I read through the descriptions of the 44 films that are part of my Spaghetti Westerns Collection, I was skeptical here because other than Gordon Mitchell, I knew no one in the cast. No name recognition here although the performances aren't that bad. Hargitay is a little wooden -- like much of the movie -- as Ringo, but he's not bad. Mitchell is a sneering bad guy (SPOILER he ain't all bad, oops!) who doesn't want to betray his old friend. Spartaco Conversi plays Tom, their dim-witted, dynamite-wielding partner. Sannoner looks good while whining and being in distress while Staccioli is the dandy-ish bad guy with Jane's father, Walcom (Amedeo Trilli), is the fellow businessman caught in the middle of the conflict. Margherita Horowitz (where did that name come from?) plays Ringo's mom, Mrs. Carson.

It is a spaghetti western though, and all its oddness and uniqueness is appealing. The score is okay, but the main theme from composer Armando Sciascia is memorable and pretty catchy, give it a listen in the credits sequence below. Ringo's blindness is actually temporary, allowing him to exact revenge at just the right time. Nice, huh? I didn't hate it, but I didn't like this one a whole lot either. The action just gets to be too much in the ridiculous department. Probably for diehard spaghetti western fans only.

3 Bullets for Ringo <---opening credits (1966): **/****


  1. Surprised you wouldn't know Spartaco Conversi. He's the guy who Cheyenne shot through his boot in Once Upon a Time in the West. Also turned up in Bullet for the General, The Great Silence and other high profile Spaghettis.

  2. What makes you say that? I mentioned him. :)