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Companeros (1970)

Postby EvilFutsin » Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:27 pm

Okay, so May got busy, too. I won't promise to do this weekly anymore. That I do promise...not to promise, that is. Anyways enough about that, let's move onto our next film, a sorta-known film with some well-known Spaghetti actors, a great soundtrack, and a machinegun. I bring you the Review Of...!!!


USA Theatrical Trailer:

The Stats:
Director: Sergio Corbucci
Cast: Franco Nero, Tomas Millian, Jack Palance, and Fernando Rey
Type: Action-packed Buddy Western, Corbucci-style Politics bled in for flavor.
Supercool Trivia: Has THREE throwbacks to Django (coffin use, machinegun, cast featuring Franco and Jose Bodalo)
Availability: Common - Amazon US - Amazon Germany - UK availability unknown, Amazon UK not working atm :(

The Content:

ti-Hero or Criminal Main Character/s - CHECK!
Famous American Actors - CHECK! (Jack Palance)
Cultural Stuff - CHECK! (Mexican Revolution)
Historical Connections - CHECK! (Diaz/Revolucion refences)
Mythical Western Showdown - CHECK!
Authentic Town - CHECK! (same set as Fistful's finale)
Torture - CHECK! (evil rodent and buried in dirt)
Ennio Morricone Score - CHECK!
Cool Train - CHECK!
Hawt Euro Babe with tons of Eye-Makeup - CHECK!
Machinegun or Gattling Gun - CHECK! (machinegun)
Exploding Bridge - CHECK!
Rotoscoping - CHECK!!!

The Review:

And now we find ourselves with a film of very interesting quality. Unlike the cheese of Five Man Army or the extreme epic scope of OUATItW, we now have one other kind of western, one some of us know and most who do love.


What's different about Sergio Corbucci? Well, let's illustate the film and such will be evident.

First, we begin with a heavy focus on Revolutionaries in Mexico during the late-1800s, early-1900s, during the time of Diaz and Villa and folks of the like, when the U.S. and France would refuse help so as to gain more Oil from the country. We follow a young man, Vasco, as he quickly, in an act of blind anger, becomes a leader of General Mongo's revolution. Shortly after taking over his hometown, Vasco and his boys are left to wait for their General to return, when one day a stranger in a penguin suit arrives on a train, with a wagon full of guns and dynamite, and a handfull of clever tricks. Enter Petersen, Swedish arms dealer who cares only for the money and wealth, who's come to sell guns to this revolution of violence.

So okay. Part 1 of premise brings forth some nice Mexican Revolution themes and some ambigious characters. Typical, right?

However, as the film progresses and the plot thickens, tossing Vasco and Petersen together to break out Dr. Xantos to open a safe for the bad guy, then having the surviving man in black (Jack Palance :D) from one of Petersen's old jobs, the Mexican army, General Mongo's forces, and the youthful Xantistas - culminating in a film that bcomes surprisingly unique through its execution and its insistence on saying something profound about life, revolution, fighting for what you believe in, and the politics of Mexico (which did indeed suffer Civil War off and on until around the late 70s). Notice that big word there? POLITICS. :)

All social commentary and historical significance aside, Corbucci also proves again with Companeros that the man loves to make great action movies. With a Peckinpah-inspired (*coughripoffcough*) shoot-out, some well-done set-pieces, and a general feeling of tough guy posturing, the film's still very much a spaghetti western. It's just got some extra frosting on it, and who the hell doesn't like frosting? ;)

So how's the cake filling? Good. The performances by Franco Nero, Tomas Millian, and Jack Palance are fantastic (Palance is especially amazing as his creepy ghostly character is also a serious STONER supposedly!) and seeing Fernando Rey doing anything aside from French Connecting is always nice. :) The chick was good but her role's pretty thankless. Same for Mongo. But there's really nothing like seeing Tomas doing his tough arrogant bandito role (which he does so well - see The Big Gundown) and seeing Franco doing his sleek bad-ass thing in the same movie. Seriously. It's worth it for that alone. 8)

The overall direction of the film is also quite light-hearted, which I will say is odd for this Sergio since typically this is the guy who does films like The Great Silence (TOTALLY depressing), Django (brutal!), and so on. However, Companeros is the kinda flick that you can enjoy watching with your mother (I did!), even if they go "eww" at the hanging corpses on occasion. ;) But, it's definitely a fun film that's got a sense of humor and a streak of wild to it that's about having a blast blowing stuff up and getting away with the thrill of war and revolting. Which is the flipside of the direction - this film captures the chaos of war or a violent/emotionally-driven revolution VERY well, from throwing torches and setting haylofts on fire to grabbing guns from your dead enemies and lever-actioning like madman. The modern feeling to the action is so strong that the premiere shoot-out towards the end of the film (involving the machinegun) that it feels like a working draft of a Michael Bay action sequence (and I mean that in a GOOD way :)), rock-style music included.

Anyways, looks like I gotta cut this short as I gotta get back to work. I'll get pictures and other things mentioned later.

For the overall though? The film's a lot of fun, it's a different kinda film with some extra layers than you expect, and it's the only Spaghetti western that has the letter X, Jack Palance, BBQ Falcon, and slipping on a banana peel. ;)
Last edited by EvilFutsin on Sat Jun 10, 2006 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby EvilFutsin » Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:30 am

(absolutely the last time I write one of these in a hurry)
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Postby sig11 » Thu Jun 08, 2006 2:59 pm

I haven't seen it, but probably will, eventually !

BTW, for the Germans here, there is another DVD version, but it is cut : Zwei Companeros - just in case you run into it in a store or online.

Oh, and why not make it movie of the month instead of week ?
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Postby EvilFutsin » Thu Jun 08, 2006 7:51 pm

We thought about that last month. Now it's pretty much official. :P
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Postby ReD NeCKersoN » Tue Jun 13, 2006 4:11 am

Another excellent read! I'll be going by the video store tomorrow so I'll look for it. I don't think I've ever seen a western with Jack Palance that I didn't like. 8)

And yes, it is movie of the month now. I just forgot to ask Lethal to change the title on the home page.
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Postby =Chico= » Mon Jun 19, 2006 1:01 am

Nice review - I'm looking forward to watching this for the first time too.. :P
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