Blindman (1971)

Ringo Starr stars in a strange and quite unique Spaghetti Western from Ferdinando Baldi. Koch Media R0 German disc.

The Film

Somewhere in the Old West, a blind gunman (Tony Anthony) rides into town looking for the men who betrayed him. Contracted to deliver 50 women to a mine, the Blindman's partner stole the women and boasts that he sold them to a friend in Mexico. Blindman blows up the house of his former partner and heads south into Mexico where he encounters the brothers Domingo and Candy (Ringo Starr) who took the women and are planning to sell them to the Mexican army - however, Blindman discovers that Candy has a weakness for a young woman named Pilar, who he has kidnapped from a local village...

European cinema has always been naturally more surreal than Hollywood and when the Italians took over the Westerns for a decade from the mid-1960s, the standard array of Old-West tales was punctuated by a mix of strange, unusual and highly innovative films. Writer and actor Tony Anthony, along with producer Alan Klein had entered the Spaghetti Western genre with the derivative A Stranger in Town (1967) and two sequels. They later worked together on the genre inspired Cometogether (1971) about an Italo-Western stuntman, produced by the Beatles singer Ringo Starr. This trio now looked for another project they could work on together. Director Ferdinando Baldi was established as a solid genre director, and had already shot some very unusual films, including the comic musical Rita nel West (1967) and the Greek tragedy of Gunmen of Ave Maria (1969), he was the ideal choice for this highly unconventional Western.

The storyline takes its inspiration from the famous Japanese Zat˘ichi films about a blind swordsman who stumbles into all sorts of adventures (a series that ran to over twenty films and a television series) and puts a typically Spaghetti Western twist on it. Of course the Blindman here is armed with a gun, not a sword and rather than a straight forward hero - he is pure anti-hero, saving the day only because he wants to complete his mission and get paid. The theme of 50 women being transported across the country is pure exploitation, especially when they are all getting washed down in a bath-house - you can really imagine that this is what a Harry Alan Towers/Jess Franco Western might have looked like (although this sequence would certainly have been a lot longer under Franco). The story moves along at a relatively slow pace, with various tricks and turns along the way and both sides getting the upper hand at times, building to a suitably dramatic and brutal conclusion. Ultimately, the story doesn't make a lot of sense - the random co-incidence of Blindman being there when Candy abducts Pilar stands out, while his plan seems to make no sense later on in the film, when he simply sets loose the 50 women, however in true Euro-cinema style, it embraces this lack of sense as it devolves into pure surreality towards the end, most notably in a bizarre Oriental funeral sequence.

Baldi provides some solid direction here, his Spaghetti Western experience stands him in good stead for most of the scenes but despite the surreality, he directs in a rather straight forward manner. The film as a whole is boosted by an obviously larger than normal budget for what would otherwise be a rather small scale Western - most notable is the very large cast of extras, the Mexican army unit numbers over 100 men, while there really are dozens of naked women in the (all too brief) bath-house scenes and several pyrotechnic scenes also benefit from the big budget. The modern soundtrack from Stelvio Cipriani (who also wrote the scores to the two sequels to A Stranger in Town (1967)) is very unorthodox for the genre, but suits the film well.

There is a rather unusual cast in this equally unusual genre entry. The American born actor Tony Anthony had written himself into the Spaghetti Westerns with his trio of self penned Stranger films and is often criticised as one of the less impressive genre anti-heros, however he certainly proves himself here as the titular Blindman, managing to convince as being blind and perform some impressive fight scenes. The musician Ringo Starr is cast as one of the Mexican bandits and performs much better than one would expect for a musician turned actor, while the stunning future Playboy model Agneta Eckemyr is cast as Pilar.

Rather slow paced and strangely plotted, Blindman might not appeal to all the genre's fans, but for anyone looking for an unusual title and something completely different, it comes recommended.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Tony Anthony - an American actor, best known for his four part 'Stranger' series of Spaghetti Westerns.
Ringo Starr - a member of the Fab Four, he starred in a variety of films including the comedy Caveman (1981).
Directed by anyone interesting? Ferdinando Baldi - a hard working Italian director behind classic Spaghetti Western Viva Django (1969) who later went on to shoot several 3-D films with Tony Anthony, including the Western title Comin' at Ya! (1981).
Any gore or violence ? Various gun and knife fights, a lot of blood.
Any sex or nudity? Several topless and nude scenes, including 50 naked women in a bath-house.
Who is it for? A strange and unique Spaghetti Western, this should appeal to any genre fans wanting something different.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 anamorphic wide-screen. Colour.
The image is strong with only a little grain and minor print damage throughout.
Audio Italian, German and English mono - the Italian sounds best, German and English have some hiss.
A few occasional lines in the English track are presented in Italian, these are not subtitled.
A few lines in the German track are in Italian, with an accompanying subtitle track.
Subtitles German for the whole film.
German for the scenes on the German audio that are in Italian.
Extras This disc includes:
  • The Western World of Ferdinado Baldi - a 40 minute interview with the writer/director talking about this film, and a few of his other works. Illustrated with still photos and some clips from the Westerns Italian Style documentary. Interesting, but doesn't really go into much detail about this little documented director. In Italian with burnt in German subtitles.
  • English, German and Italian original cinema trailers - all rather beaten up quality.
  • Lobby card and still photo gallery - presented as a video file with soundtrack behind it.
  • EASTER EGG: A second lobby card gallery presented in a different format.
  • EASTER EGG: A short comic "silent movie" filmed by the DVD producers, with German intertitles. (1m 17s)
  • The DVD case includes a short, 4 page booklet about the film in German.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Availability German Release. DVD Title: Blindman - Der Vollstrecker
Other regions? Japanese DVD, non-anamorphic print with English options only for a shorter 84 minute cut of the film. Italian DVD, no English options.
Cuts? The film is believed to be uncut, this is the full 102 minute cut of the film.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 10th March 2007.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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