Ringo del Nebraska (1966)

a.k.a. - Savage Gringo (USA), Nebraska Jim (GER)

Ken Clarke stars in a solid Spaghetti Western, directed by an uncredited Mario Bava. Koch Media Germany R0 DVD.

The Film

Somewhere in the Wild West a lonely gunman named Ringo Nebraska (Ken Clarke) rides onto Marty Hillman's ranch. Quick on the gun he is hired by Hillman to work on the farm, but riding across the cattle range the pair discover one of Hillman's workers who has been murdered, almost certainly under the orders of rival land owner Bill Carter (Piero Lulli). Ringo stops his Hillman riding into town to attack Carter and instead reports the instance to the Sheriff who locks up several of Carter's men. Hillman is shot and wounded in an ambush and looked after by his wife Kay who seems to be developing feelings for Nebraska but Carter is also after her and Nebraska is forced up against the villainous land owner.

Co-written by the original director Antonio Román, Ringo del Nebraska has a storyline quite typical of the early 1964-66 period of the Spaghetti Westerns - set around a small town with two feuding cattle barons whose ongoing struggle is heighted by the arrival of a sharpshooting outsider. Fortunately the script avoids falling into the clichés that were already starting to saturate this quickly booming genre and the storyline is a real highlight, building mystery from the opening scene with mysterious dialogue between Hillman and the woman who appears to be his wife while continuing to drop curious hints as to what is going on and providing a couple of unexpected twists as it builds to a particularly effective climax. Pacing is on the slower side, but the film benefits from not using gratuitous gunfights as padding (in so many similar films you would expect to see Ringo forced to fight off several waves of faceless mercenary killers).

Although taking the director's credit, Spanish director Antonio Román was removed from filming within days, to be replaced by the ever reliable Mario Bava (for Spanish union quota reasons, Román's name remained on the official credits). Best known for his elaborately staged gothic horrors, Bava helms Ringo del Nebraska in a much more conventional style (without even the distinctive night-time studio sets of his earlier Western La strada per Forte Alamo) but rather like the script, his camerawork is unoriginal but effective. Some familiar Spanish locations provide a fine backdrop for a good looking Old West town and sets, although as normal in the genre, despite cattle being continually mentioned they are never actually seen and the large ranches seem to consist of nothing but grass. Composer Nino Oliviero provides a good backing soundtrack with a memorable opening theme.

Ken Clark returns from Bava's first Western to again play the leading part - his distinctly American looks are ideal for the role and fit with the film's more American atmosphere. Fortunately the role is a pretty straight forward heroic one as it would be hard to imagine him being as effective as an anti-hero. The beautiful but little known Argentine actress Yvonne Bastien plays the alluring Kay while a solid cast of familiar genre faces provide good acting all round, including perpetual villain Piero Lulli (Se sei vivo spara (1967)) as Carter, Alfonso Rojas (Minnesota Clay (1964)) as Hillman and Livio Lorenzon (Texas, addio (1966)) as the Sheriff, who provides some convincing drunk acting.

While 1966 saw some of the most innovative and subversive Spaghetti Westerns to emerge from the entire boom, most notably Sergio Corbucci's genre defying Django (1966), Bava proved that it was possible to create a highly entertaining and enjoyable Western while still following all of the accepted genre conventions - he is aided immeasurably by some very strong acting and an erudite script. While Bava fans might not find too much of interest, this one is certainly recommended for all Spaghetti Western fans.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Ken Clarke - an American actor who also appeared in the Macaroni Combat film Desert Commandos (1967)
Directed by anyone interesting? Mario Bava - best known for his gothic horror films including I tre volti della paura (1963)
Antonio Román - a Spanish director who worked extensively in the 1940s.
Any gore or violence ? A little blood.
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? A good, well made Spaghetti Western that should appeal to genre fans, but nothing much of interest to Bava collectors with little of his style evident.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour.
Picture quality is generally good although very grainy and the colours seem a little too oversaturated in some scenes.
Audio Italian mono - generally good, although there is some hiss noticable in quiet scenes.
German mono - comes through strongly, missing a couple of scenes which play in Italian.
Subtitles German (1) - based on the Italian soundtrack.
German (2) - infill for the missing scenes on the German audio.
English - based on the Italian soundtrack.
Extras This disc includes:
  • Nebraska Howard - an interview with actor Howard Ross discussing this film and his career in general. Italian with German subtitles. (20 minutes)
  • German theatrical trailer - as Nebraska Jim - scratchy anamorphic print. (2 minutes)
  • Image gallery - a manually scrolling selection of promotional images for the film.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Availability German release. DVD title Nebraska Jim.
Other regions? There is also an Italian DVD release with Italian audio only.
Cuts? The film is believed to be uncut. Titles and credits are in Italian.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 11th April 2011.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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