They say the pen is mightier than the sword.
And so we place into a single room
the greatest writer of all time
and a schmuck with a sword.
The writer has his pen…for self-defense.
But we feel the Yojimbo trappings are too antiquated (1961)
so we give the bard a typewriter…no, a laptop
and the schmuck…a gun.
Who will draw first?
For speed, it is the gun which wins (assuming the schmuck knows how to fire it).
It is a big assumption.
So, let us add some lag time…
as the schmuck experiments with the mechanics of his weapon.
And then we stop the test and replace the schmuck with a professional assassin.
By now the poet is sweating blood.
Will he hit “send” in time?
Ah, but now we have overshot the mark with our rhetoric.
So let us back up to the computing of the 1960s.
Computation #1: Westerns are no longer in vogue. American Westerns are the subject of ridicule in Italy. Laughable.
Enter Sergio Leone into the equation.
A smart guy. Sees a gap in the market. How would Rossellini direct a Western? Or Fellini?
Do they make revolvers that hold 8 1/2 bullets?
And who gets the half-a-bullet?
I had intended to talk about Guantanamo Bay. Moral disgust.
But the sands of time in the Tabernas Desert are pouring away…a steady stream of grains.
And so the faceoff makes imperative that I get the most bang for my click.
Eastwood. Leone. Savio. Savio? Morricone. Ah, that’s better.
Gian Maria Volonté (the bad guy) would go on to play in the first (and one would assume only) Marxist Western. A subgenre which never really caught on. The film Vent d’est (1970)–director Godard–filming location Mozambique.
Sounds too weird to be true, right? Just don’t be fooled by Robert Enrico’s Vent d’est from 1993.
Just because a film is Franco-Swiss (like Godard, Franco-Swiss)…uh-uh, not the same thing.
But the assassin schmuck is getting the lay of the land. I digress, I die.
I am not the worst writer to ever live. Give me time. I may yet claim that title.
We cannot, however, forget Marianne Koch. So long…
Never forget a woman from Munich. The beautiful Renate Knaup, for instance.
A double umlaut for your trouble. Amon Düül II. Zwei.
But time is unkind to me…merciless.
Will we reach José Calvo in time? With our heart of iron?
Well hello Joe, what do you know? The “Man with No Name” and Une Femme est une femme.
I’ve hardly talked about the film. That’s what some call “no spoilers”…
But I can make no such guarantee.
Only brilliance. Leone. Eastwood. As good a Western as could possibly be made.
If you feel your heart in your throat…your tears well up
then maybe you think of Guantanamo Bay.
One by one.
Certainly it would help to know that Abdul so-and-so knocked off an Army Ranger medic.
The medic part is no superfluous detail.
But the rest?
Held for three years.
It seems, from the outside, that the war has been run by the CIA.
There are no armies to battle.
No high-value targets. I’m not the first to comment on the ludicrous situation of a $200,000 bomb being dropped on a mud hut.
Bad guys torture.
And so Clint Eastwood does not torture. Here. In 1964.
If you jump down the rabbit hole you will be disgusted.
How does this in any way have to do with a Spaghetti Western?
It is the message.
We might not have a hell of a lot of time.
Find the quote by the general…about the detainees at Guantanamo who arrived with mental problems and left with “none.”
I also have a bridge to sell you in Arizona. And I’ll throw in the Seven Dwarfs as maintenance crew.
You see, it’s a hell of a lot easier to just write a film review and not worry about all this stuff.
That’s what happens in totalitarian countries.
Hang on, someone’s knocking at my door…