Il Bianco, il giallo, il nero (1975)

a.k.a. - The White, the Yellow and the Black (USA)

Tomas Milian, Giuliano Gemma and Eli Wallach star in Sergio Cobucci's unimpressive comedy Spaghetti Western. DVD Storm R0 Italy.

The Film

Somewhere in the old West, the famous Sheriff Edward Gideon, better known as Blackjack (Eli Wallach) is taking the sheriff's pay to town when he is stopped by the wiley bandit known as Swiss (Giuliano Gemma) who takes his money. On the run, Swiss hides on a train where he finds himself in a wagon with a horse, as well as a Japanese Samurai and his servant Sakura (Tomas Milian). As Swiss hides, the horse eats all of the money, and he sees Sakura taking the Samurai's sword to play with. Indians attack the train, killing the unarmed Samurai and stealing the horse which turns out to be a highly valuable creature. The Japanese government offer to pay the million dollar ransom for the horse, and send Blackjack to deliver it, but Swiss is soon after the money and Sakura wants to save the horse himself...

The Spaghetti Western was at its creative height between 1965 and 1969, but it kept on going into the 1970s, with lower budgets and more comic than serious films. By the middle of the decade it had almost died out and it was to this atmosphere that Bianco, Giallo, Nero was released, clearly aiming to be more comedy than Western. The film does have a few good laughs, most notably in the cabaret sequence with the three leads forced to go "undercover" and there are some scenes that are quite humourous simply because they are so bizarre - notably the appearance of a motorbike - however most of the jokes are of the "fart" variety with many of those around the dopey Sakura character bordering on offensive. With quite its slow pacing, the film does drag on quite a lot (especially since it runs to over 100 minutes). Fortunately the ending is strong and surprisingly tense, while the epilogue is the funniest part of the film.

Sergio Corbucci was one of the Spaghetti West's big names - evident from him receiving billing alongside the actors on the opening titles, but as the genre declined so did his output. Except for the well shot the final battle scene, the rest of the film shows little flair, and could have been shot by anyone. Composers Guido and Maurizio De Angelis (best known for their distinctive score for Keoma (1976)) provide the music here, and it is fittingly bizarre.

The film does boast a strong cast. Giuliano Gemma was not the biggest Italian genre star, but he seems to be enjoying himself as the ingenious Swiss, while American star Eli Wallach is well suited to the role of Black Jack. Tomas Milian gets the most controversial role, playing the Japanese Sakura and saddled with a rather terrible accent and script, but at least puts his heart into the role.

Il Bianco, Il Giallo, Il Nero is certainly not the best film in any catagory and some viewers might find it simply offensive, but fans of the genre might enjoy its daft and occasionally enjoyable comedy. Not recommended.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Tomas Milian - Cuban born actor who appeared in numerous Euro-Westerns, including Companeros (1970)
Giuliano Gemma - Italian star who appeared in several Westerns, including Lucio Fulci's Silver Saddle (1978)
Eli Wallach - an American actor best known for his role in Sergio Leone's Good, The Bad the Ugly (1966)
Directed by anyone interesting? Sergio Corbucci - one of the best known Spaghetti Western directors, responsible for the revolutionary Django (1966) and the dark Great Silence (1969).
Any gore or violence ? Lots of death, no blood.
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? For genre and director completists only.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour.
Picture quality is pretty good, although some scenes are notably blurry.
Audio Italian 5.1 and original mono - sounds good, but the surround track is rather unimpressive.
English mono - sounds fine throughout.
Subtitles Italian - based on the Italian soundtrack.
Extras This disc includes:
  • Samurai - an featurette including interviews with Nori Corbucci (the director's wife), actors Guiliano Gemma and Nazzareno Zamperla, composer Maurizio De Angelis, and the film's editor Eugenio Alabiso. (19 minutes, no English options).
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Availability Italian release. DVD title Il Bianco, il giallo, il nero.
Other regions? Not available elsewhere.
Cuts? The film is believed to be uncut. Titles and credits are in Italian.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 19th September 2007.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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