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Gunfight at Red Sands

NR
3.3 out of 5 stars (11) IMDb 5.7/10

(1963) Richard Harrison, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Daniel Martin, Mikaela, Sara Lezana. This was our first Spaghetti western release many, many years ago. We've finally brought it to DVD from a beautiful widescreen color print.

Starring:
Richard Harrison, Giacomo Rossi Stuart
Runtime:
1 hour, 30 minutes

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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This little 1963 shoot-em-up is regarded as the first Spaghetti Western, and although it is more conventional than the more famous entries that would follow, it is a rousin' good time. There are energetic cowboys of Anglo and Mexican types, a stolen bag of dollars, Can-Can dancers, fistfights, horse chases, and lots of six-guns a-blazin'. Brawny Richard Harrison takes a break from Italian muscleman-in-peplum movies to portray Gringo, an Anglo Texan who was raised by a kindly Mexican. When Papa is slain by intruders who steal his life savings, Gringo and his Latino brother and sister swing into action against the mystery bad guys. Add a shifty sheriff who has surfer hair and loves Maria, the beautiful saloon chanteuse who carries a torch for Gringo while he's been away fighting for Mexican freedom, and the two smelly, racist Wilson brother saddlebums. Simmering tensions brew that will soon explode with hot lead, and perforated cowboys flop down dead in the dust.

I played "Gunfight at Red Sands" for two movie-loving pals and we all were entertained and satisfied. The picture and trailer on the Sinister Cinema DVD are from top-grade prints with excellent color, picture, and sound. Also recommending this movie is the initial Spaghetti Western music score written by Ennio Morricone, here billed as "Dan Savio." You too will be singing the heroic theme song:

"Keep your hand on your GUN
Don't you trust any ONE
There's just ONE kind of man you can trust, that's a DEAD MAN--
Or a Gringo like ME!"
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Format: DVD
American muscleman Richard Harrison stars as El Gringo in Ricardo Blasco's pre-Leone Spaghetti Western GUNFIGHT AT RED SANDS(1963). It's the revenge theme as Gringo (a white man raised in a Mexican family) returns from fighting for independence in Mexico to his Mexican family living in an American border town. The town is rife with racism and upon Gringo's return his Mexican "father" is murdered for his gold and Gringo then finds himself set-up for murder as he goes after the three men responsible, who are trying to blame it all on Mexicans in general. Gringo teams up with his Mexican brother and sister, whom he's in love with (he's adopted, remember) and the three of them face down the badguy white guys in the final shootout.

This is a very interesting movie. Being pre-Leone/FISTFUL OF DOLLARS it's more in tune with looking like an American/Hollywood knockoff, yet it still reflects European sensibilities, mood and style and has a catchy score by Ennio Morricone. It's beautifully shot on the same locations as FISTFUL and the town and buildings (Baxter house,etc.) are all very familiar. Even the river where Ramone massacres the cavalry escort is crossed.

And the print offered by Sinister Cinema is the one to get, it's from a 35mm scope source so you get a widescreen picture with lush color and sharp image.

Richard Harrison claims that after making GUNFIGHT AT RED SANDS he was offered the Clint Eastwood role in FISTFUL OF DOLLARS but turned it down to continue making peplums like THE GIANTS OF ROME(1964). In Harrison's own words,"That was the biggest screw-up of my career".
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Format: DVD
After several tries of getting this fantastic Richard Harrison western from 1963, the true masterplan for the "spaghetti Western," I wanted to report that the copy from Sinister Cinema is the best out there currently. It is clear, crisp, colorful and with no interruptions, blurry image or audio distortion. They have done well. The song "A Gringo Like Me" (sung by Dicky Jones) by Ennio Morricone (music is credited to Dan Savio) is a first for him, I believe, as I understand it. Director Richard Blasco and the director of photography, Jack Dalmas in Technicolor, although Sinister Cinema's print, too, is dubbed in English, the writing of this story is truly great. How truly historic this effort is is that it is over-shadowed by the Sergio Leone films which take claim to originating a genre that they popularized. For many off these of what has become known as "European Trash Cinema," at the very beginning, many actors and crew Americanized their names for the credits and are now becoming well-known for their rightful (largely Italian) names as these films gain recognition through the power of our technology to make them more accessible even upon their first release. It is another well-produced venture for Jolly Films, the somewhat well-famed European production company, a great glimpse at the star power of Richard Harrison, and unreservedly, hands down, for many documented reasons, "the first" spaghetti western.
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Format: DVD
This old spaghetti Western may have been the first of its genre, and it is notable for a number of interesting thematic reversals that are carried out in subsequent spaghetti Westerns and even in later American re-assessments of the genre. The most clear-cut of these is the "bad Anglo, good Mexican" perspective that runs through the film, personified in the despicable Wilson brothers (who constantly humilate the decent Mexicans of this Texas town and make radical racial slurs against them). The same motif can be seen in the Charles Bronson-Henry Fonda faceoff in "Once Upon a Time in the West". Another is the "bad sheriff (Corbett)--good gunfighter (Ricardo "Gringo" Martinez") motif" that also comes out much, much later in the (American-made) Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio film, "The quick and the Dead", as well as in Clint Eastwood's dark and powerful "Unforgiven". While some of the acting is stilted in places, the film's departures from the classic Hollywood stereotypes that came through in the final waning days of the Western on TV, such as "Bonanza" are exactly what make it compelling.

As an afficionado of the spaghetti Western genre, above all the superlative "Once Upon a Time in the West", and the Clinton Eastwood-Sergio Leone trilogy ("The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," "Fistful of Dollars", and "For a Few Dollars More"--each of which glorifies bounty hunters rather than lawmen!) I can see where this film established several of the reversal motifs on which the subsequent great films yet rest. An added bonus is the great theme song, with its haunting refrain, "the only man you can trust is a dead man, or a Gringo like me.....".
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