Monday, April 25, 2016

Can You Say Adios When He Won't Leave?

Adios, Sabata seems to have higher production values than Sabata did. It also has Yul Brynner in place of Lee van Cleef in the title role, which, eh. I know Brynner is the more highly regarded actor, but I tend to not have strong feelings one way or the other about him.

In this case, the film uses the setting of the Mexican Revolution against Maximilian. Sabata is hired to try and steal a shipment of gold from the Austrians, and then take it across the border into Texas to buy guns. Except the nefarious Colonel Skrillim had already planned to attack the shipment himself, to hide the fact he mostly sent bags of sand and kept the gold himself. He hadn't counted on Sabata and a handful of revolutionaries finding this out, and they try to infiltrate his compound to get the gold back. When they get caught, they decide to just kill all the Austrian soldiers and take the gold that way. Which works, somewhat remarkably.

But there's a lot of odd or silly things in the movie. The colonel has a little trap he likes to use to kill people, hidden in a model ship. One of the revolutionaries, Septiembre's, favored weapon is a pair of slings he has set up on the tops of his shoes. He drops the steel balls into the sling, and then does a sort of roundhouse kick to fling the projectile and hit people in the head. I guess you could get more velocity on it that way. Again, Sabata also pairs up with a former acquaintance he seems to find very annoying. This time it's a guy named Ballantine, who is also a halfway decent painter and keeps a book with him to makes notes because he apparently can't remember anything. Brynner has this look of almost pained exasperation when Ballantine is around. Like the guy is giving him a headache just by being there. Yet he keeps saving the guy from being killed by Escudo (Ignazio Spalla, who was also in the first movie, as a different character) when Ballantine keeps trying to betray them or ditch them. But Ballantine is actually doing a portrait of the Colonel, so he's supposed to be their in. Yeah, that worked well.

The writing is a little dodgy. There's a sequence, before they realize the shipment of gold they stole is mostly sand, where Sabata and Ballantine try to convince Escudo to just divvy up the gold. The Austrians are retreating all over, the revolution is won. Why waste this gold on more guns and weapons? Escudo resists, claiming the money is for the revolution, and he seems to have won the argument. Then the camera pulls back to a long shot, and we see the wagon do a 180, and before you know it they're opening the chest and pouring out the gold in the few actual sacks of it on top. I guess we were supposed to take it as Escudo changed his mind after the camera pulled back, but it seemed like he'd won the argument.

There's also a point where three different groups - the revolutionaries, Skrillim, and Sabata, all plan to blow up the same bridge, albeit at different times. So Sabata is climbing down into the supports to set nitroglycerin in there, when there's already dynamite tied in. Also, the Austrians plan to retreat into Texas? I had a hard time picturing the Texans just opening their arms to a foreign army retreating into their country.

And the Austrians really like to remind you they're Austrians. Skrillim does it more than once, sometimes in consecutive sentences saying, "We Austrians. . ." But this was an Italian film originally, and Italy does have some history with the Hapsburgs, so maybe it was trying to play that up? Austria-Hungary had collapsed over 50 years earlier, but people might still remember. Or are the Austrians stand-ins for the Nazis here?


SallyP said...

I actually like Yule Brenner too, but I have to admit that Lee Van Clef can look villainous like nobody's business.

CalvinPitt said...

That's for sure.