by Jaime Grijalba.
Hiya fellas! I’m so so deeply sorry to all of you because I’ve failed you in so many forms that I can’t even count them. First of all, I’m sorry because I wasn’t able of having a review ready for this small series last week, I promised you a new obscure western every thursday, and I wasn’t able of watching and reviewing said western last week. Also, last week was also the announcement of the Nobel Prize Winner for Literature, which was awarded to canadian short story writer Alice Munro, someone I wasn’t familiar with, but whose reputation I had actually heard about. I used to do some investigative reports on the writers who won the prize, and actually managed to do a bunch of posts on a lot of books written by Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, but was stopped many times because I lost the books or took a long time to finish them. But this time I’m keen on doing something about Alice Munro, but I started badly, take this as an apology and also an announcement that maybe some day I’ll restart the Nobel series with the chronological review of the works of the winners (either be Llosa, Tranströmer, Yan or Munro, two of these unavailable due to untranslated first works). But in the meantime I have these westerns to review, this one this week is an italian spaghetti western from the late 60’s on the heydey of the genre, when Sergio Leone was making his best work and everyone was just crazy for this stuff. As you might remember, or not, from last time, I have a ranking system for this films, which you can revise after the jump, as well as start reading the review of this particular and relatively unknown western.It’s obvious what stands for what. Once again, thanks to Bob Clark for the design and help with the categories: ‘Hang ‘Em High!’, ‘Town Drunk’, ‘Sheriff’ and ‘The Man with No Name/The Legend’.
’32 Caliber Killer’ (1967) will, maybe, be the best obscure western that we will see in this series (I’m making quite the gamble here), because it knows what it is and it doesn’t want to be much else, it’s supposed to be entertaining and it manages that many times, as well as it surprises with the twists and turns that the plot makes during most of this what-you-may-call-it mystery/western of sorts. The protagonist is Mr. Silver (no, not just ‘Silver’, you must call him Mr. Silver) that at first seems to be like the western equivalent of Robin Hood, when in the opening scene he shoots and kills the master of a troupe of mexican workers that are being abused and whipped all the time, but we immediatly notice that something interesting and different is going on, when one of the workers approaches Mr. Silver and gives him a bag of money with a thousand dollars inside, he’s a hired gun, but like many other lovable hitmans, he will only kill those who he find bad or doing the wrong thing, you know, criminals and such, no bulshiting around. He is a new archetype that would later take over the spaghetti western genre, the gunman with a nice suit, who Lee Van Cleef would immortalize in the films that he made from 1968 with Sergio Leone, but this time he’s played by Peter Lee Lawrence, german actor who made a name for himself by never making a movie in Germany.
After the introduction of the character of Silver we are given the situation in which he is put into, a wagon with all the money of a bank is robbed by a band of outlaws, most of them known people in the nearby town from which the bank was from. One of them is discovered so they have to shoot everyone that was in the wagon, the authorities want the problem to end, but they don’t want to go through all the trouble that is filing the cases and then searching for the culprits, so they decide to simply contact and then make a contract with Mr. Silver for his duties as a gun for hire. There’s a constant struggle between Silver and the sheriff, that always seems to want to put him to jail (that’s the first thing that happens when he arrives town and kills his first criminal), but he also always manage to make it seem as if it was self-defense, how does he do that? Well, he’s a cocky bastard, you can’t help not being annoyed by his smile and the way he talks, he’s the badass hero that many of us would hate if he wasn’t just so awesome in every way possible. He infuriates those he wants to make furious through various method,s either they be by seducing women or playing poker with them. There’s an impressive sequence in which he plays poker with a lot of people, and the one he wants to kill just can’t take it anymore, pulls out his gun and tries to proove that Silver is cheating (he’s been winning since he sat at the table), and when he can’t, he gets shot, and everyone has to say that it was self-defense. You could say those things in the west.
There’s also a bunch of funny moments when Silver is confronted by the criminals, they know that they’re on the look-out, but they also known that they can’t be killed without a reason, but at the same time it’s silly to see how they seem to put themselves into the situation that is akin for them to be killed without any consequence from the law. The cinematography isn’t exactly special, but it’s serviceable, but there are some camera angles and shots that seem mostly interesting for the genre, specially when it comes to the close-ups of women (the women here are really really gorgeous, the italian beauty always present), as well as some cenital shots in the poker sequences and some others using the shadows of the barn in which one of the bad guys hides. This is mostly a contest, how much awesome can we take from Silver? A lot, actually, he doesn’t become tiring nor a superhero of sorts, he is cocky but lovable, and he also seems to get in trouble a lot due to that, so that makes him more human and likeable. His presence is really important in the frame and he transmits that power and badassery that the western hero must have but that it had lost until then. It’s one of the most impressive and entertaining westerns that I’ve seen in a while, and while not perfect, I’m not sure why it’s not better remembered. This deserves the sheriff plaque, and I hope that some of you may find a way to watch it.