A small town somewhere in the Old West is the scene of an ongoing conflict between two rival gangs, lead by the Mexican Trianes (Mimmo Palmara) and the cattle baron Mulligan (Furio Meniconi). The Sheriff Joe Donnell was a famous shot but is now a drunkard, happy to let the feuding continue to destroy the town while he drinks his cares away. A young deputy, Burt, is sent to the town to try and restore law and order...
No strangers to the genre, writers Fernando Di Leo and Enzo Dell'Aquila (who also directed) take a rather typical genre storyline - a town with feuding gangs, and adds an unusual twist by focusing on the involvement of the Sheriff. The Sheriff was a staple of the American Western, but in the Italian films they were often very minor, impotent figures - representative perhaps of the way that Italians viewed authority figures. This focus, along with the largely character based storyline gives the whole production a more American Western feel.
Unlike the writers' previous collaborations Sette pistole per i MacGregor (1966) and its sequel, Tequila Joe is a completely straight faced production and often quite grim - never playing for laughs, even the drunken antics of the Sheriff. This really helps to keep the storyline moving and avoids the awkward shifts in tone during the film's darker moments (most notably an implied gang-rape) that let down the MacGregor films. Moving quite unpredictably and with strong pacing, the film builds up to a simply superb finalé with an almost unmatched tension during the final gunfight and a strong ending.
Enzo Dell'Aquila (credited as Vincent Eagle) was not an experienced director and his work here lacks the flair of the genre's best known titles, but it certainly gets the job done and never distracts from the storyline. Most of the film is based on the good looking and realistic town set (the small town has a plausibly small bar rather than the enormous saloons of many Spaghetti Western towns) and the few location shots look good. Frequent Western collaborator Francesco De Masi provides another fine score with a suitably downbeat opening ballad.
Proof of the highly international nature of the Spaghetti Western, the titular lead Anthony Ghidra is actually a Jugoslavian actor, Dragomir Bojanic, who made five genre films in a couple of years. He gives his best performance here in a very challenging role as the drunken Sheriff - managing to completely convince in the part without ever having to resort to slapstick comedy. Little known French actor Jean Sobieski plays Burt - he is not called on to act much and does look a little wooden in these scenes, but convinces as a slick gunslinger. Several familiar faces crop up in the rest of the cast, in particular the gang leaders who are played by Furio Meniconi (Spara, Gringo, spara (1968)) and Mimmo Palmara (Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide (1961)).
A rather typical Spaghetti Western storyline gets an American twist in this dark and well written film with an amazingly tense climax, bolstered by an impressive leading performance from Anthony Ghidra and solid direction and production throughout. While unlikely to rank among the genre's best known titles, Tequila Joe must certainly rank among the best of the second-tier productions and is recommended to all genre fans.
|Anyone famous in it?||
No-one well known.
|Directed by anyone interesting?||Enzo Dell'Aquila - an infrequent director who did worked several times as a Spaghetti Western writer, contributing to Sette pistole per i MacGregor (1966) and Sono Sartana, il vostro becchino (1969).|
|Who else was involved?||Fernando Di Leo - best known for directing a number of popular euro-crime films including Il Boss (1973)|
|Any gore or violence ?||A little blood|
|Any sex or nudity?||None seen, but there is a strongly implied gang rape sequence.|
|Who is it for?||Among the very best of the second tier Spaghetti Westerns this will appeal to all fans of the genre.
|Visuals||Original aspect ratio 1.85:1 anamorphic wide-screen. Colour.
Picture quality generally strong with good colours and detail.
|Audio||English mono - sounds fine.|
|Extras||This disc includes:
|Region||Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC|
|Availability||Only available as a double-feature with A Hole Between the Eyes.|
|Other regions?||Available from Surf Italy as '...e venne il tempo di uccidere', no English options.|
|Cuts?||Believed to be fully uncut. The print is Italian.