Spara, Gringo, Spara (1968)

a.k.a. - Shoot, Gringo... Shoot (USA) Tire, Django, Tire (FRA)

A solid Spaghetti Western from Bruno Corbucci, boasting strong scripting and production. German R2 Koch Media DVD.

The Film

Chad Stark escapes from jail and and takes his revenge on the man who put him there, but finds himself hauled before a local landowner, Gutierrez. He is spared execution if he will travel up to the United States to capture and return the man's wayward son Fidel who has fallen in with a crowd of bandits lead by "The Major". Stark arrives to find the gang returning to their hideout after a casino raid and sweet-talks the Major with a big heist plan, but when he rides out with Fidel to scout the locations, he instead kidnaps the boy and they head for Mexico - but he finds that Fidel has no desire to return...

Written and directed by Bruno Corbucci (curiously credited as Frank B. Corlish), Spara, Gringo, Spara boasts a strong and varied script - although the synopsis is hardly the most original, a variety of unexpected twists keep the storyline flowing. The film is generally slow paced with only a few key action scenes (including a rather gratuitous bar fight) and on the plus side this gives plenty of time for characterisation - Stark is a very interesting character, known as Django in the French and Belgian versions of this film, but surprisingly not in the German, he is much more of an anti-hero than the usual Django or Ringo characters and although never a "bad guy", it is clear that he is motivated in his good deeds purely by the money on offer for Fidel's return. A little comic relief does break in, including the eccentric Major and his pet duck (!) and although these scenes are quite brief, the general tone is much lighter than Bruno Corbucci's better known scripts for his brother Sergio including the notoriously grim Great Silence (1969).

Corbucci's direction is strong with some clever but sparing use of unusual camera angles, including some nice point-of-view shots. Although a relatively low budget production, the small cast and sets are hidden well and the film looks up there with the best of the genre. Lesser known composer Sante Maria Romitelli gives the film a rather standard soundtrack that works well.

There are no big Spaghetti Western or Euro-cult names on the cast - American actor Brian Kelly takes the lead role as Stark, best known for his television work, he would tragically become paralysed in a motorcycle accident a few years later and was eventually responsible for producing Blade Runner (1982). Well travelled fellow American Keenan Wynn gives a good, straight faced performance as the Major, while Fidel is played by little known Italian actor Fabrizio Moroni. Folco Lulli (best known as the star of art-house favourite Wages of Fear (1953)) and the always attractive Erika Blanc (The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971)), get brief but important appearances.

Well acted, written and directed, Spara, Gringo, Spara is a pretty good Spaghetti Western, although lacking the spark of greatness that would make it a must see film. With the American leading cast and director hidden behind an Americanised name, it is a hark back to the early days of the genre and although recommended to Spaghetti fans, there are many better films for newcomers to track down.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Henry Silva - a little known American who became a Euro-crime star after starring in La Mala ordina (1972)
Directed by anyone interesting? Bruno Corbucci, brother of Sergio, he is responsible for writing a variety of Spaghetti Westerns (including Quella sporca storia nel west (1968), as well a number comedy films such as Miami Supercops (1985).
Any gore or violence ? A number of deaths and a little blood.
Any sex or nudity? None.
Who is it for? All Spaghetti Western fans should enjoy this well made entry.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour.
The picture quality is near perfect with minimal grain and almost no print damage. Slightly soft in places.
Audio Italian and German 2.0 - sound good throughout. (Some scenes in the German track are in Italian)
Subtitles German 1 - Translation of the Italian track.
German 2 - Translation of the Italian track only for the missing scenes in the German audio.
English - Translation of the Italian track.
Extras The disc includes:
  • Westerns Italian Style - a fascinating genre documentary from 1968 with extensive (and spoiler filled) behind-the scenes footage of Run, Man, Run (1968) and The Great Silence (1969) among others, includes interviews with directors and actors including Enzo G. Castellari and Sergio Corbucci, as well as a look at the influence of the Euro-Westerns on Italian culture. Narrated by Frank Wolff. English (with English subtitles for some scenes in Italian, alternative German subtitles throughout). (36m 15s).
  • Original German theatrical trailer.
  • Photo gallery - including posters, publicity stills and lobby cards.
The DVD box includes a 4 page booklet, in German only.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Availability German release - DVD Title: Im Staub der Sonne
Other regions? A Japanese DVD also exists with an English audio track and Italian with no extra features.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print language is German.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 23rd December 2006 - updated 20/6/13.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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