Comedy, Western

Compañeros (1970)

Comments Off on Compañeros (1970) 03 March 2015

Companeros blu

Studio: Blue Underground

Theatrical Release: December 18,1970

Blu Ray Release: October 28, 2014

Director: Sergio Corbucci

Not Rated

Review by Travis North

Craig Sorensen reviewed Unrated Film the Blue Underground DVD Of Companeros back in 2012. Here is a brief portion of that review:

It is a time of unrest in Mexico.  Various revolutionary groups are fighting against the corrupt government and General Diaz.  Tomas Milian (Don’t Torture a Duckling) plays El Vasco, who in a fit of blind rage kills Diaz with his own sword and creates a void which is immediately filled by the bandit General Mongo.  Shortly thereafter, Yodlaf Peterson, known as ‘The Swede’ (Franco Nero of The Visitor) shows up with a train car full of explosives and weapons looking to make a deal with Mongo.  While there they discover a large safe.  It seems that the only person who has the combination is revolutionary leader Professor Xantos (Fernando Rey of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie) who is being held prisoner in Texas.  So the Swede and Vasco team up to break him out of prison and transport him back over the border.  While on the way they run into bounty hunter John (Jack Palance of Alone in the Dark) and his band of mercenaries who have been hired to kill Xantos by wealthy American oil tycoons. 

Like a lot of westerns coming out of Italy during this time, Compañeros is a complicated mix of absurdest humor and stark violence.  A lot of the time this mix doesn’t really gel.  Here though it works.  This probably has to do with the all star cast and director.  Nero and Milian were both rightfully stars of the genre on their own and together they have the charisma to pull off some of the films zanier moments (Milian literally slips on a banana peel at one point).  And they seem to have a rapport that works well with their characters.  Fernando Rey almost seems typecast as the Professor but he’s so good in the role that I can’t really complain.  The standout though is Jack Palance.  He really goes all out crazy here.  So to begin with, he’s speaking in a weird Irish accent and always wears a cape.  He also carries with him a falcon named Marsha which he uses to ferret out his foes.  Jack also sports a prosthetic hand which he lost in an earlier altercation with Nero’s Swede character.  And to top it all off, he’s constantly smoking joints.  Part of his payment to kill Xantos is a leather pouch full of pot.  If that isn’t the most crazy, over the top villain in a spaghetti western please let me know in the comments because I’ve never seen anything better.  I was enjoying the film a lot before his character showed up but that just pushed Compañeros into my all time favorite westerns, along with another Corbucci favorite, Il Grande Silenzio.  I think I’ve gone on record for my love of Sergio Corbucci’s films before and he certainly doesn’t disappoint here.

I do not share the opinion of the film. I found the comedy unexpected and completely out of place, the violence soft peddled and tame, but I do agree with seeing Jack Palance in an unforgettable role.

I don’t have the Blue Underground DVD to compare the picture with here, but I have to imagine this is at least a moderate upgrade. Nice colors and sharpness, with for the most part the appropriate amount of grain. Both the original longer Italian version and the English dub are present, as well as trailers and interviews that have been ported over. While flipping between versions (the original soundtrack is the way to go just to hear Palance’s bizarre Irish accent) I noticed that the subtitles must have been translated from the already translated Italian dub. Listening to dialogue that is written as completely different made me think the “phone tag” effect is going on. It’s enough where it almost changes the plotting and some of the tone of the film. Very strange and consider yourself warned.

If you like Ennio Morricone soundtracks, Franco Nero, or crazy Jack Palance this may be worth purchasing. Others may have trouble sitting through this subpar spaghetti Western.

Movie Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Blu Ray Rating: ★★★☆☆

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