El Sabor de la venganza (1963) is perhaps the best of the Pre-Leone euro-westerns, one of the best "Spanish westerns," and Joaquin Marchent's best western. Genre fans looking for something similar to the Dollar's films often overlook and under-rate what is a very well made b-western that foreshadows the later Gothic family westerns like El Pistolero dell'Ave Maria (1969).
El Sabor de la venganza at first glance appears to have more in common with American westerns than later euro-westerns that, it at first seems, have been more completely translated by the filmmakers to their own historical and cultural perspectives. Ortolani's score is certainly based on American examples and is not nearly as inventive as that in other euro-westerns. Also, though the movie doesn't have the same sly ironies that the genre is well known for it's sincere enjoyment and indulgence in western conventions is very much in line with the self-consciousness of the genre. The long quasi-documentary rodeo sequence in the middle of the movie, complete with a Rio Bravo (1959)-style cowboy song sung over it, is a great example of this. This sequence, following a well put together montage about the brothers each living their separate lives, may annoy some viewers, but I think that it provides a good bridge between the two halves of the movie, streamlining and focusing attention on the pivotal moments in the plot.
In terms of "translations," the dynamics of the family and the vendetta that arises out of the father's death are very interesting. Each of the three Walker brothers - Jeff (Richard Harrison), Chet (Claudio Undari), and Brad (Miguel Palenzuela) - follow divergent paths when seeking out revenge for the father's murder. One becomes a federal lawman, another an outlaw, and the oldest inherits the family ranch. The relationship between the brothers, each motivated by the mother's pronouncement of vendetta, seems to have an accent very foreign to the American genre. This is a Spanish family, maybe derived from sometime in the past, and not the typical film representation of a (Anglo) pioneer family. The extreme tensions and conflicting obligations motivated by an early tragedy were a dominant theme in later euro-westerns. There is always an element of confused identities, either of protagonist or of the perpetrators. There is one effective scene in which Chet almost recreates the murder of his father with himself as the would-be murderer, pointing to a violence and vengeance that could reproduce itself indefinitely. This view of revenge as a contagion turns up in other westerns by Spanish writers and directors, such as Julio Buch's El Hombre que mató a Billy el Niño (1967). That movie ends with Billy's surrender of his guns, followed by his assassination. Unlike the historical figure, Garrett becomes that of a man trying to prevent the tragedy, produced by a world of political oppression and corruption, which pulled Billy into a spiral of violence from claiming more bewildered victims. This movie's finale can be understood in the same way, with Jeff as the Garrett to Chet-Billy. This movie brings to mind other vendetta westerns such as Robert Hossien's Une corde, un Colt (1969) or Pasqule Squitieri's Vendetta è un piatto che si serve freddo (1971).
The focus on the canons and dunes of Allmeria brings to mind very similar scenes from later movies, as do the brilliant white Spanish pueblos against the deep blue of the sky.
Finally, the combinations of close-ups and long shots is particularly effective, giving what is otherwise a good b-movie a sense of scale that it otherwise would lack.
(Note: I am reviewing the letter-boxed, subtitled version that played on SBS in Australia. I suspect that the poor quality that this movie has been released in the past explains the lack of interest in and appreciation of this movie.)
Top spaghetti western list http://imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=21849907
Average SWs http://imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=21849889
For fanatics only (bottom of the barrel) http://imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=21849890
Loading video, please wait...
Three unequal brothers seek revenge for the murder of their father. Each of them goes a different way.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
May 24, 2022 at 11:27 AM