in the Wild West, bandits hold-up a stagecoach full of gold - Little
Rita steps in but is laughed at by the bandits. She withstands their
bullets thanks to a bullet-proof vest and disarms them, they fight
back, but the newly arrived Fitzgerald shoots them down. Together they
take the gold back to a Native American reserve, lead by Chief Silly
Bull, where we learn that Rita plans to seize all the gold in the West
and destroy it, hoping to bring peace to the country - she only has to capture
the gold of Ringo and Django to complete her task. She tracks down the
two famous bounty-killers and teaches them a lesson, but soon finds
herself kidnapped by Mexican bandits under Sancho - however she is
freed by Black Star (Terence Hill), with whom she quickly falls in
love, but all is not as it seems...
Westerns were filmed in Europe from
the early days of cinema, but rarely left their own country and could
never compete with their American counterparts. This all changed in the
1960s with the impact of first the epic Karl May Westerns, and shortly
afterwards the legendary Sergio Leone trilogy. By 1966 the genre had
forged an identity of its own, and Sergio Corbucci's Django was very influencial - by 1967 the genre was so popular that it was suited for parody. To
this extent, the film works well - the sequence when Rita faces down
Django (dragging a coffin in a perfectly replicated scene from the
Corbucci film) is very funny, as are the various genre-self-referencing
jokes, and as expected, plenty of fun is also made of the diminutive
Rita going up against her much larger opponents. Fortunately though,
the film does not fall into the trap of simple slapstick humour that
damaged many of the more light hearted Spaghetti Westerns, or the
rather crude langauge that passes for humour in most modern parodies.
While those unfamiliar with the genre might not 'get' the Django scene,
the rest of the film is very accessible.
However, Little Rita
is much more than just a genre parody (something that would become
rather common by the 1970s) but is also a musical (yes you read that
right!). From dancing Indians and a slow romantic piece to a whole town
sing-along, the film boasts several lively musical numbers. The music
is very modern (at least for the 1960s) and is certainly not the
typical Old Western soundtrack. Inbetween all this, the film does have
a storyline - Little Rita trying to capture all the gold in the west,
which cleverly allows her to get involved in various fights to seize
gold, while remaining the good-girl throughout. The Black Star
character adds some excitement later on, and the film builds to a
suitably dramatic emotional climax, although without too much
action - this is much more a chick-flick Western than the genre's
Ferdinado Baldi had proven himself on a variety of peplum titles, and
entered the Euro-Western genre with the solid if unimpressive Texas, Addio
(1966) for producer Manolo Bolognini, and was the obvious choice to
direct this film - although not showing any real flair, he directs the
film solidly throughout. The all important song and dance numbers are
very well choreographed with some big casts of extras, while the sets
and costumes are all typical of the genre. The incidental soundtrack is
solid. My only complaint was with the editing - some scenes ending very
quickly after the last line of dialogue and giving the film a rushed
feel in a few places.
musician Rita Pavone, who
plays the title role, had been discovered in a talent contest in 1962
and by 1966 was well known across Europe, even topping the British
charts. Fortunately she can actually act, and her boyish looks suit her
perfectly to this role. Italian born Terence Hill returned from Germany
had gained some fame in several of the Karl May Westerns) and was cast
here in his first Spaghetti Western appearance. Sadly he doesn't get to
instead getting the only real straight role in the film - the grizzled
Black Star here is a long way from his clean cut character from Old Surehand (1965) and it is clear to see why Baldi would cast him as Django a year later in Viva Django
(1968) - the film also marked the first time he would be credited as
Terence Hill. A variety of familiar genre faces are present here,
including Fernando Sancho (10.000 dollari per un massacro (1967)) and Gino Pernice (the unfortunate Jonathon in Django (1966)), while Rita Pavone's manager and future husband, Teddy Reno, plays the town sheriff.
Little Rita Nel West
is a superbly enjoyable little film - at times a clever genre parody,
it boasts some entertaining musical numbers and comedy and is one of
the few genre titles that I could recommend to the whole family
(although there are various deaths that would probably get the film a
12 rating). Highly recommended to genre fans wanting something a little
different or something that they can watch with their partners.
Anyone famous in it?
Terence Hill - soon to become best known for the Trinity films, he made his name in the Karl May Westerns.
Directed by anyone interesting?
Ferdinando Baldi - a lesser known Italian director who began in the peplum films
and debuted in the Western genre with the solid but unimpressive Texas, Addio (1966)
Several people get killed, no gore.
Who is it for?
Any fans of the Euro-Western wanting something a little new should try this out.
Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. Colour. Anamorphically enhanced. The
picture quality is decent - only light grain, but colours are slightly
faded and there is minor speckling and print damage throughout. During
some scenes, there is a slight bar on the left of the screen that
changes colours - this is mostly covered by over-scan and not generally
noticable during watching.
Italian 5.1 and original mono - sound fine although there is not much separation on surround track. English mono - sounds good, although the songs were never dubbed into English and play in Italian.
Italian - for the Italian soundtrack - does not include the songs.
Main feature runtime: 1hr 37m 18s (PAL)
Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
DVD, non-anamorphic print, but does include interviews with Rita
Pavone, Ferdinado Baldi plus a trailer and deleted scene - English
subtitles. The German DVD, does not include English options.
film is believed to be uncut. Titles and credits are in Italian.
A unique Spaghetti Western, Little Rita nel West is enjoyable and girlfriend safe. Recommended to genre fans.
The DVD has a good print and
audio although the complete lack of extras is a shame considering their
presence on the Japanese disc. The lack of English subtitles might
annoy some, but the songs play perfectly well in Italian, and it
doesn't affect the enjoyment of the film too much.