Cox’s Orange Pippins: Ringo Stars

Lots of spaghetti westerns on YouTube!

Above are A PISTOL FOR RINGO and THE RETURN OF RINGO, Duccio Tessari’s two RINGO movies with Giuliano Gemma and his five hundred Joan Crawford teeth as “Montgomery Wood” as Ringo. The Ringo Kid, of course, was John Wayne’s protag in STAGECOACH, and just as everybody and his nephew rushed to make Django knock-offs using the character name without permission, this can be seen as Italians claim-jumping a piece of established mental real estate, though nobody was likely to believe that these films had any official connection to Ford’s classic.

Tessari, one of Leone’s writing team on A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, apparently wasn’t interested here in using the hardboiled YOJIMBO model to upend Western movie morality, as the Sergios had done. His films tend to be nicer — even his gialli have sympathetic characters sometimes.

I just acquired The Pocket Essential Spaghetti Westerns by Howard Hughes (not that one), who traces Tessari’s influences to Hollywood B-pictures and serials, though mercifully his cowboys do not sing (but both these movies have a lugubrious balladeer warbling saccharine over the Morricone title themes). Leone, feeling the need to shore up his intellectual credentials with some smart references, claimed he was influenced by silent cinema and neo-realism, and that the western was fundamentally European because Homer invented it. But Tessari’s second Ringo flick (which, as is the way of these things, enjoys zero continuity with the first) really IS a Civil War version of the Odyssey, or the last section of it anyway, the homecoming. (It’s the RETURN of Ringo not in the sense of his being recognizably the same character, but in the sense that this Ringo incarnation returns home after an absence.)

I do like the jokey start of the first film — check it out.

6 Responses to “Cox’s Orange Pippins: Ringo Stars”

  1. Surely the homecoming – or that you can’t go home again, often because there is no home to go to – is the at the heart of many Civil War films.
    Anyway, going to watch them and may comment later.
    On the other hand “I never read a book before reviewing it. It prejudices a man so.” applies to films as well.

  2. Tony Williams Says:

    The Odyssey parallel was first noticed in MONTHLY FILM BULLETIN when the film was released in the UK. Gemma and Tessari also had a background in peplum so may have wished to contribute something lighthearted to the genre. Lorella de Luca appears as Broderick Crawford’s daughter in IL BIDONE (1955) and Evelyn Stewart (Ida Galli) appears in LA DOLCE VITA. Then American Italian Western actor Lincoln Tate is in the cast of Rossellini’s THE AGE OF THE MEDICI. Several interesting “filone” as they would say in Italian.

  3. While we’re on Spag Wests, Giuseppe Tornatore’s ENNIO is well worth seeing, with its account of Morricone’s experimentalism.

  4. I LOVE Return of RIngo! That’s maybe the one SW that can truly be described as romantic. That scene of Montgomery being reunited with Halley made me wanna clap. There’s just something so warm about Tessari, like he’s the Truffaut of low rent exploitation

  5. Tony Williams Says:

    Yes, it has been recommended to me by a Manchester friend. Just watched VIOLENCE IS THE FIFTH POWER directed by Florestano Vancini with Morricone/Nicolai collaboration and a great cast especially Mario Adorf whose 70s work I increasingly admire.

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