Little Rita Nel West (1967)
Terence Hill stars in this unique Spaghetti Western musical parody, from 
Ferdinando Baldi. Alan Young R2 Italian disc. 

The Film

Somewhere 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 typical entries.

Director 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.

Popular 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 (where he 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 sing, 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.

In brief:

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)
Any violence? Several people get killed, no gore.
Any sex? None.
Who is it for?
Any fans of the Euro-Western wanting something a little new should try this out.


Visuals 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.
Audio 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.
Subtitles Italian - for the Italian soundtrack - does not include the songs.
RuntimeMain feature runtime:  1hr 37m 18s (PAL)
Region Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
Other regions? Japanese 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.
Cuts? The film is believed to be uncut. Titles and credits are in Italian.



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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 4th March 2007.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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