Friday, April 29, 2016

Sabata Returns, Less Serious Than Before

Return of Sabata is my favorite of the three films, if only because it seems like the strangest. It opens with Sabata (played by Lee van Cleef again) in a gunfight for his life against 5 men in some strange room with green and red lighting, while a different group of guys sit behind a conference table and watch. All of which turns out to be a carnival game. Pay your money for the chance to duel the famous Sabata (with blanks). Then he sees one of his old lieutenants from the war, and the opening credits is said looie trying to run all over town to escape, only to find Sabata always waiting. Like one of those Droopy Dog cartoons where the wolf can't get away from him. That's the first 5 minutes.

After that, it settles into slightly more standard fare of Sabata deciding he's going to rob the local big shot, who adds ludicrous taxes onto everything, with all of it supposedly going into a community fund to build a hospital, a newspaper, all that stuff. Except he's really using it to buy gold for himself. And his bride to be is fooling around with the lieutenant (who runs a tavern/casino) behind his back. And the lieutenant can't get it through his head to quit trying to double-cross Sabata. You'd think the first time it failed would have been enough. Why take chances that Sabata's patience is going to run out?

Van Cleef seemed to be enjoying himself on this one. Sabata seems constantly amused through the film, and more than willing to play along. When the lieutenant tries to trick them during the heist, Sabata just removes the bolts from the carriage he had waiting out back, the leisurely rides along behind. There's an absurd sense to the whole thing, and he's embracing it. Ignzaio Spalla is in this film as well, this time as a sort of town crier, maybe a hype man for McKintock (the local big shot). He does use his wagon like a taxi service, but he also carries around a drum and frequently publicly derides Sabata for refusing to pay the ludicrous taxes. In turn, Sabata makes fun of his cheap cigars, and keeps not paying the ludicrous taxes.

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